Taken From: Living Well Spending Less
1. EXHAUSTION AND SLEEP ISSUES
If you’re feeling tired all the time or if you’re battling insomnia (or both), these are clear signs you may be in over your head. Try to aim for 7½ to 8 hours of sleep per night. If you just can’t seem to get what you need or if you’re still exhausted despite hitting the 8-hour quota, please visit your doctor.
2. FREQUENT ILLNESS
Everybody gets a cold or flu bug now and again, but if you’re sick all the time, something might be wrong. This is a big one for me. Have you ever heard, “If you don’t take a break, your body will take one for you”?
3. HEADACHES AND STOMACHACHES
Even if you’re a migraine sufferer or if you have digestive issues, constant flare-ups can be a symptom and sign of stress. If you notice your body is experiencing more pain and discomfort than usual, see a doctor and consider addressing the source of some of the stress, if at all possible.
4. SPORTS INJURIES
If you (or your kids) are frequently experiencing sports injuries and strains, perhaps you’re training too hard or taking on too many physical challenges. Kids can be taking on too much as well, so it’s up to you as a parent to reinforce limits and help them understand it’s okay to sit out once in a while.
5. FEELING OVERWHELMED
We all feel overwhelmed once in a while, but if you’re regularly feeling like things are spinning out of control and it seems like you can’t get a handle on anything, it might be time to take a break and reset.
6. FORGETTING THINGS
Again, everyone forgets things sometimes, but if you’re noticing marked confusion or forgetfulness, it might be a sign of too much stress. The worst part of forgetting things is how it compounds the feelings of stress even more so. If you’re searching for answers on the tip of your tongue, it might be time for some rest and relaxation. Our brains need breaks, too.
7. FEELING STRESSED, ANXIOUS OR ANGRY
If you feel you’re on the verge of screaming at someone or ready to explode all the time, it can be really miserable. Of course, it’s normal to feel nervous, worried or angry sometimes, but if it seems you’re in a constant state of irritation and distress, it’s probably time to seek some help or to cut back on your to-do list. A big red flag? Erupting in anger for almost no reason.
8. FEELING SAD, DEPRESSED, OR IN DESPAIR
A little sadness is natural, even healthy. (Who doesn’t need a good cry every once in a while?) Clinical depression, however, is dangerous and should be taken very seriously. If you feel you’re depressed, tearful or unhappy most of the time, then please reach out to get some help.
9. FREQUENT FIGHTING
If you and your spouse can barely be around each other without fighting, or if you’re experiencing a higher-than-usual amount of conflict in your relationship, it could be a sign you’re both stretched too thin. Take a step back before it takes a toll on your relationship.
10. LASHING OUT AT YOUR KIDS
We’ve all had moments when we’ve snapped at our kids, and it feels terrible, of course. If you find you’re short-tempered or easily frustrated with your children for benign situations, it may be a sign you’re approaching stressed-out.
11. ISOLATING YOURSELF OR FEELING LIKE YOU AREN’T SOCIAL ENOUGH
For some people, every weekend means a social gathering or activity. For others, maybe your social calendar only needs to be visited a few times a month. You know what’s normal for you, so if you start feeling isolated or like you’re not seeing friends and family as frequently as you’d like, then something might be amiss. Pay attention to comments from your nearest and dearest as well. Sometimes those who know us best might pick up on isolating behaviors faster than we can pick up on them on our own.
12. TAKING OFFENSE (TOO EASILY)
If every social interaction leaves you feeling hurt, annoyed or stepped on, it might be a sign you’re feeling vulnerable because you’re emotionally strained. When we are exhausted or feeling raw, every comment can come off as offensive or harsh, even if it was unintended. If you feel like everyone is frustrating you or hurting your feelings, you might need a break.
13. DESTRUCTIVE HABITS
When we’re trying to keep up with everything, we can develop bad habits and rely on coping behaviors that are damaging to our bodies, minds and souls. Using drugs, drinking too much, and even overspending can become addictive. When this happens, it’s time to take a step back to realize that we’re often using these quick-fixes to try to make ourselves feel better, rather than addressing the stress at hand.
14. SKIPPING SPIRITUAL TIME
Our time with God is the most important time we can spend. By isolating ourselves from worship, we’re left feeling like we’re telling God we don’t have time for Him. You’ll feel much better when you revamp your schedule and regain some peace.
15. FEELING GUILT OR FEELING DISTANT FROM GOD
If you’re constantly wracked with a sense of guilt or a feeling that something is missing, or if you’re just avoiding prayer because you feel you might be unworthy or not enough—it’s truly time to reach out. When you feel that distance, it means you are pulling away from God, not the other way around.
16. MISSING APPOINTMENTS AND EVENTS
If you’re unable to keep appointments and commitments because you either can’t keep track or you just keep forgetting, your calendar is probably too full. Really look it over and think about what items you can scale back on or say no to.
17. MISTAKES AT WORK
Many times, our busy personal lives can spill over into our work lives. If you’re taking on too much outside of the office, you might find yourself unfocused or unable to handle as much at work. Conversely, if you’re taking on too much at work and you find you’re unable to let it go when you’re home, it’s probably time to refocus your work/life balance.
18. FINANCIAL PROBLEMS—OVERSPENDING AND LATE BILLS
When we’re stressed, finances can seem insurmountable. Not only do we spend to cope with stress (it’s easier to go out to eat than to fix dinner; it’s easier to buy a gift than to take the time to make something), but we can also find ourselves avoiding our bills and falling behind. It can become a vicious cycle.
19. A MESSY HOME
If you feel you’re constantly running around and you never have time to clean your house, let alone relax in it, it’s time to re-prioritize. A messy, disorganized home can add to the chaos of our lives, as it becomes a place of stress rather than a sanctuary from the world around us.
20. FALLING BEHIND IN SCHOOL
Our children feel the pressure of our stress as well. Have your kids fallen behind on assignments because you haven’t had time to go over homework or help? Are they struggling because of too many evening extracurricular activities, lessons and clubs? Kids can get just as stressed out as adults and childhood should be a time of creativity and growth, not stress and deadlines. Help your kids get their stress under control and make sure your stress isn’t spilling over onto them.
By identifying these signs and symptoms of stress, we can better head it off before it takes over our lives. Remember: life is short! It should be joyful and fun (not miserable drudgery). Give yourself time to appreciate the beauty in day-to-day activities and let go of the pressure to do it all!