Its shocking how many people need to take time off work due to stress or stress related issues like lack of sleep, depression, tiredness etc its know that short bouts of stress called Eustress can be beneficial to us making us work harder and gain motivation for the task in hand. Let things flip the other way to distress from taking things too seriously and you can land yourself in a lot of trouble. It becomes especially easy to get stressed out when working long hours and trying to fit the rest of your life in the gaps, realistically though this is something most of us experience and have to learn to deal with so lets have a look….
There are 4 main areas to look out for when spotting the symptoms of stress;
Cognitive stress can result in things like constant worrying or feeling a sense of panic/fear all the time. You may also find it hard to concentrate on anything and find your thoughs jumping about. A test I like to to to see if I’m too stressed is to see if I can sit down for a while and read a book, if I get restless quickly and cannot concentrate I know that its time to take some time off and catch up on sleep.
Stress can induce a host of physical symptoms this can be anything from constant headaches to a lowered immune system resulting in frequent colds or even sore throats, a decreased sex drive is also very common. If you think any of your physical symptoms and related to stress take some time off nap or practice meditation ….
This is a big one for me as I notice as soon as I am stressed or lacking sleep my behavior changes this is in spite of eating a good diet and trying to relax. You may notice things like irritability or waking up in the middle of the night or morning feeling worried or anxious. Watch out for other things like overreacting to comments or changes in your appetite and eating habits….
Watch out for your emotions they can become very vulnerable and cause you to become impatient or short tempered with those around you. Another one to look out for is a sudden bout of loneliness or sadness overcoming you.
Finding the Solutions!
Luckily for us the solutions are easy to find and something we can all do and can avoid you taking sick leave or stress leave from work which can ruin careers!
This one is a catch 22 as it depends on your current lifestyle; If you are already exercising a lot then its probably time to tone things down as overtraining can make things worse as it stresses your CNS and will make you more tired. On the other hand if your currently do little or no exercise its time to step it up as some sports will release feel good hormones which cut straight through the cortisol (stress hormone) in our bodies! A good base for exercise is:
Weight Training 2-4 times a week (Short intense sessions 20-40 minutes)
A couple 30 minute Brisk Walks a week
1-2 Interval sessions of Sprints
If you can manage that amount of exercise per week you are well on your way to optimal health and well being!
This is a big one and probably the thing that is causing the stress in the first place. A lack of sleep can have detrimental effects causing all the above symptoms so its the first thing you should get in check. Make sure your getting 7-9 hours of peaceful sleep every night anything less won’t cut it! If you are forced to take less sleep then try and have a nap in the day to make it up. There is a great book Called Light’s Out which the Modern Forager reviewed here ….It talks about the effects on our hormones chronic sleep depravation is having and how we can fix things by simply adjusting a few things and getting enough sleep. So in a nut shell make sure your room is pitch black at night, keep electronics off while sleeping and have a look at this post ….
This is another thing many people need to have a good look at. Get loads of Anti-oxidant rich foods things like berries and oranges are great at this time of year as they are packed with vitamin C. Most importantly make sure you eat real food to get your hormones in check this is the key.
Another thing which is important is Vitamin D this topic has been cropping up everywhere recently and it seems people are starting to realize just how important this stuff is! You can get your fix from the sunlight usually 20 minutes a day of sun exposure should do the trick but due to the cold winters we need to look into foods. A good source is a high quality cod liver oil, alternatively egg yolks are packed with the stuff so try and get your hands on some Omega 3 eggs!
If you want to delve deeper you can try out some adaptogenic herbs things like Rhodiola are potent adaptogenic’s and can help you deal with stress they are not too expensive and well worth trying out. Becareful though Rhodiola is a very potent herb and should not be take anymore than a few times a week and only when you are feeling very run down or tired.