Stress is an epidemic of the modern world. It’s also insidious. It creeps up on you, impacting your life in a thousand little ways before you even realize it’s a problem. You might not even realize it’s a problem. You might be reading this and thinking it’s not relevant, but it’s actually bubbling there under the surface.
When we’re stressed, we tend to find that time flies by too quickly. It’s hard to believe that the minutes pass in the same way as they always have, for the speed they seem to travel on by. In the midst of all of this, we have to juggle our lives and our workloads without losing control.
Bit by bit, areas of our life begin to suffer. This is why stress is such a problem; it doesn’t just make you stressed. It is the start of a domino effect that can bring everything crumbling down.
By knowing the warning signs, you can try and regain control before the problem becomes catastrophic. Even if you’re not feeling stressed now, here’s a few of the areas it can attack – and how to notice when it’s gone too far.
This is perhaps the biggest impact that stress has. Not just in the way we’re damaged by the physical effects of stress, but the way it makes us neglect other things.
There are three main areas you have to keep on top of:-
- Dental health. Oral checkups are one of the first things to go when you feel you’re struggling for time. Then, you find yourself with a chronic tooth problem that you didn’t spot early enough to prevent. Dentists can remove you from their patient list if you don’t attend regularly, so get back on the horse and find a new one. If that sounds like hassle you don’t have time for, services like http://www.24hourdental.org or a quick online check can reduce the time.
- Physical health. You’re more likely to let health issues run if you’re stressed to the point of not feeling you have the time for an appointment. You can also overlook issues like fatigue and headaches, putting them down to being a symptom of the stress you’re under. It’s probably nothing, but if they’re chronic, then you need to see someone – and be as proactive about all other issues too.
- Mental health. Taking time to de-stress is much easier said than done. If you can’t remember the last time you did something just for the pure joy in it, then you might have an issue that needs resolving.
Look at the source of any recent celebrity breakup. The main thing you will usually see cited is that they had busy schedules and couldn’t make time for each other.
On the one hand, this tends to be PR speak for “they hate each other now”. Yet there’s also a grain of truth to it; the lack of time for one another is a factor in non-celebrity breakups as well.
When we feel rushed in ourselves, that makes us less likely to indulge in relationship-healthy activities. This is particularly true if we have been in our relationship for a long time; we become neglectful of the emotional needs of our partner.
There’s no blame here, just an acknowledgment that relationships take work. If a previously-functional relationship is in trouble, then look at why. Do you disagree on important issues? Or is the main factor more about not enough time and emotional support? If it’s the latter, then there’s a chance stress is getting in your way.
It’s also worth mentioning that stress has an impact on our anger management. If you find yourself flaring up at small slights (such as not doing the dishes), then investigate further.
Friendships, when we are younger, are so simple. We have to go to school every day, and that means we see our friends. We can see them outside of school as well of course, but there’s that inbuilt expectation of always having time to catch up.
As adults, we don’t have that luxury unless we work with our friends. Which, being realistic, most of us don’t. That means we have to find time to maintain those friendships, particularly long-distance ones.
When you’re under a lot of stress in your work and romantic life, the friendships begin to dim from view. We can find it stressful to receive an email just saying hello because we fear the expectation of the reply. Gradually, the emails dry up, and the invites stop because we’re not engaging.
The best thing to do is be honest, so no one gets their feelings hurt. Explain you’re going through a rough patch and might be AWOL for awhile. Any true friend is going to understand.
Whether work is the cause of our stress or a distraction from it, there’s no doubt it will come into the firing line. The more frazzled and under pressure we feel, the more likely we are to make mistakes.
If you find yourself making errors in tasks you have previously done without issue, then see it as a warning sign. You’ve not suddenly become incompetent, so something else is at play here. You can feel less able to cope with meetings, presentations and other work interactions that have a social function. When you’re stressed, the idea of having to “perform” is crippling. Your body floods with flight or flight hormones, and you want to run away – except you can’t, because it’s your job.
While it’s somewhat reasonable to dislike your job and wish you didn’t have to do it, watch out for it becoming pathological. If you wake up every morning and feel miserable instantly, then there’s a concern. It’s an even bigger concern if you’re in a job that you used to enjoy.
So now you know the warning signs, you can intercede before things escalate. See a therapist; try adult coloring or anything else to bring your stress under control. Your whole life will benefit from it.