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Signs that You Need to Take a Break



Stress is a natural response that helps us be alert and perform when demands are placed on us, but too much stress can be harmful, so it's important to be able to recognize when we need a break and what works to relieve our stress.

"If we don't get a break from stress, it will start impacting our mental and physical health."

What is stress?


Experiencing stress (different than anxiety), happens through the same mechanism in our brain as emotions. Our bodies are constantly sending information to our brain about what demands need met, and when one demand takes more effort, it raises our stress response. Now, this can be helpful because it raises our alertness, but there's a level of stress that can be overwhelming and decrease our performance. It's also important to consider how chronic stress can have a negative impact. If we don't get a break from stress, it will start impacting our mental and physical health.


Stress is important for us to be able to respond to the demands of our environment, such as school, work, or relationships, but it is also important for us to be able to get breaks from our stress response, a.k.a. relax.

Examples of Stressors

Starting a Job

Moving

Birth of a Child

School

Marriage

Illness

Losing a Job

Death of a Loved One


Examples of Chronic (long-term) Stressors

Prolonged stress that is not addressed can contribute to feelings of depression, anxiety, changes in sleep, and more, it can also lead to burnout. These are some of the reasons it is so important to know how to recognize stress and ways to address it.

 

How do you know when you need to take a break?


What are the signs and symptoms of stress?

Signs of (Prolonged) Stress:

There are a number of the different effects stress can have on one's mind and body. Some things to look for include:

  • Anxiety

  • Difficulty Sleeping

  • Aches and Pain

  • Decreased Sex Drive

  • Difficulty Concentrating

  • Frequent Illness

  • Feelings of Helplessness

  • Decreased Energy

  • Fatigue

  • Feeling Out of Control

  • Irritability

  • Eating too much or too little

  • Upset Stomach

  • Mood Changes

All of these can be signs of stress or burnout. It's recommended you talk to someone and try to find some relief to help your mind and body heal.


How does stress affect your health?


Prolonged stress can cause our body and mind to stay in an alert state and has a great influence on our brain's chemical balances and our body's ability to fight illness. Looking at the list of signs of stress, you may notice many signs of anxiety and depression, and that there is lots of mention of illness. When our energy and our immune system are depleted, preventing and healing from illness becomes more challenging, adding to even more stress.


That cycle of stress that we get caught in can contribute to those feelings of helplessness or hopelessness. Constant stress and anxiety can make it difficult to fall asleep at night even though we are already exhausted, making it difficult to concentrate, difficult to find joy in things we used to, and difficult to reset to be able to confront our stressors.

Ideas for stress relief:

Stress can have a wide range of impacts, but don't worry, we also know much more about helpful ways to manage and reduce stress now. Some strategies include

  • identify what is causing the stress

  • maintain a healthy social support system

  • exercise regularly

  • engage in hobbies

  • get enough sleep

  • walk away when you need to

  • get help

A helpful tool to think of ideas when stressed is to use the term HALT. Consider what each letter represents and address the underlying problem. H- hungry, eat. A- Angry, go for a walk, or count to 10. L- lonely, call and talked to trusted support. T- tired, rest. If you are feeling overwhelmed by stress. Don't hesitate to try to find help. Talking to someone to unload some of the stress is very helpful and a therapist can help you brainstorm ideas for other things to try that can help you manage your stress.


I hope this is helpful! Let me know by leaving a comment if I missed anything and if it helped you at all.


 

Sources:

https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body

https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/health

https://www.verywellmind.com/chronic-stress-3145104