Overstressed and Anxious in 2020: Make Time to Recharge
For many of us in 2020, we just don’t know when to slow down. The daily hustle and bustle get us going and we move like a freight train until we completely run out of steam. But do we know when to take a breather, collect our thoughts, and relax? There are some telltale signs that you’re headed towards a break down and we know just what you need to catch it before it’s too late!
Nervous breakdowns, simply put, are an overload to your nervous system and can be caused by extreme stress and anxiety. When we don’t take the necessary time to disconnect from our everyday stressors, whether at work or otherwise, we can begin to feel too run down to keep going. Below are just a few side effects of too much stress and anxiety.
Inability to Concentrate
Not only can you not concentrate, but you may also not have the motivation to get up and even attempt your daily tasks either. You can start to feel as though projects are piling up and you don’t have the motivation to tackle them head-on. If you notice you’re procrastinating more than usual, this can be a sign that you have more on your plate than you can handle.
You may start to pull away from your loved ones or become disinterested in your usual activities with them. If 2020 has offered us anything, it’s a feeling of disconnect with loved ones, friends, and even coworkers. And you can begin to feel disconnected from yourself. You may begin to feel that if you distance yourself from your environment or situations, the stress will start to diminish but, in all reality, there will always be stressors.
Stress and anxiety have a beautiful way of showing up at the most inopportune times; even when you’re trying to fall asleep. A racing mind may never settle down enough for you to reach REM, or rapid eye movement, sleep. If you wake up feeling just as tired as you were when you laid down, you may not be getting the sleep your body needs to function. And if your body isn’t energized, the desire to be productive flies out the window.
Headaches and Muscle Pains
Stress and anxiety take a toll on your psychological well-being but have physical side effects as well. When you feel anxious, the body produces extra adrenaline and cortisol, a chemical closely related to stress. During this time, our blood pressure increases, pumping these chemicals through our bodies faster than usual. This can lead to dizziness, headaches, and even irritability.
Moreover, you can start to feel tension in your muscles, more prominently in your back and shoulders during times of high stress. This nervous feeling can affect your digestive system by inducing stomach aches or nausea, can cause hyperventilation, low libido, and can even alter the menstrual cycle in women. Though similar tension can be caused by bad posture or working seated for long periods of time, if you see this tension presents itself regularly regardless of activity, you could be experiencing a side effect of too much stress.
Weakened Immune System
Because our bodies respond quickly to outside threats, during times of heightened stress, our bodies are flooded with chemicals that encourage a fight-or flight response. When anxiety and stress continually occur over a long period of time, our bodies never settle back down to its normal resting pace. This can cause the immune system to weaken, leaving us more susceptible to viral diseases, like the common cold.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Let Go of the Reigns
There is a common mantra that reads, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” While there are certain stressors we can’t just simply turn off, there are some factors that we can control. By listing out any situations that cause you stress, you can begin to decipher who and what you can stop funneling energy into and tackle obstacles one at a time. We can often feel powerless and overwhelmed by our circumstances but knowing what you can control can help to reduce the overbearing feeling you may have every day. It’s like lifting a weight off your shoulders. This should help you sleep better at night, knowing you have done all you can to improve your situation and knowing what can be dealt with another day.
Also, creating a routine, including time for meditation, and maintaining regular schedule, can create uniformity and structure in your daily life. When we start to feel overwhelmed, it could be that we’ve taken on too much outside of our norm. To limit stress and anxiety, try sticking to a schedule and truly mastering it before throwing more situations into the mix.
Not only is it good practice to exercise regularly for your physical health but you benefit mentally as well. While cortisol is pumping through you during times of peak anxiety, endorphins, the feel-good chemicals, skyrocket during exercise. This can relieve some of the nervous tension you may be feeling otherwise. In fact, 62% of adults who say they use physical activity to relieve stress also report that it’s an extremely effective technique for managing stress, according to the American Psychological Association. And while this helps to improve your overall mentality, it can also improve the way you see yourself. Many say “when you look good, you feel good” and though improved body image is not the goal, improving your physical health offers more benefits to you and your body than to not and struggle with built up stress. Based on the same statistical analysis, 53% of adults recognized the positive benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It’s a win-win!
Recommended durations for exercise are 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, or 15 minutes of high-intensity exercise at minimum per day. Another excellent way to refocus your mind is to set aside specific time for meditation or yoga exercises. Because both require a strong focus on the movements and feeling of “center,” the common stressors you may feel begin to fade while relaxing.
One of the best ways to relax and unwind is to literally unwind those tense, knotted muscles you may be experiencing. While many of us feel tension building while working from home or just by having strenuous careers anyway, stacking additional stress and anxiety on top of our already hectic lifestyles can start to wear on us. To relieve tension headaches, or headaches that have a squeezing sensation like a band around the head, find massages that can fixate on the muscles at the base of the head and the shoulders. Swedish massages are great for beginners and can relieve muscle tension throughout the entire body without the use of too much force. This may be a great option for those uncertain about the effectiveness of massage therapy. You can always try deeper tissue massages later if you like the aftereffects of a full body massage. You can also try trigger point massagers that release muscle tension by using targeted pressure on trigger points throughout the body. Using 30-40 seconds of consistent pressure on painful, knotted areas can cause a muscle release and less tension in that muscle area. These can be used in the comfort of your own home and don’t require much energy for a quick tension release.
There are very clear signs that you are being bogged down by stress and anxiety. While both are healthy to feel from time to time, if these are a constant in your life, take some time to slow down and reflect on what’s most important to you. Listen to your body and make it a priority…. It’ll thank you later!