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Stress Signals and Strategies

Stress manifests itself in all sorts of different, often unnoticed ways. The mind plays tricks on us when we are too caught up to examine our emotional state. A crucial component of wellness is mindfulness, by becoming more aware of your particular stress signals-- we can take a break before we have a breakdown.

My Stress Signals:

For me, the first sign of stress lies in my relationship to food. My hunger cues are completely out of whack. Sometimes, I find myself eating twice as much as I normally would. This has been a lifelong pattern of mine, and since realizing this I have become much more mindful about my eating patterns. This has enabled me to maintain a healthy weight.

I have noticed that when I don’t give myself breaks-- I snack more. Eating is productive and when I’m stressed out, I find that I need to justify stepping away from my work. This is especially true whenever I am tired because food gives me an energy boost regardless of whether I actually do not need to eat or not. I believe that it’s healthy to stress eat to a degree, often when we are in times of stress, we are super active. Also occasionally indulging in some comfort food is definitely not the worst coping mechanism; it may even add some joy to your day.

The second sign I notice is physical symptoms. I lose a lot more hair than usual, my muscles are tense, and my menstrual cycle is off. If I’m being mindful, these signs make me slow down and lessen my stress level. I realize that something is off and that I need to take better care of myself. In times of major stress where my mind seems completely disconnected from my body: I experience psychosomatic symptoms. I feel lethargic to the degree that I question whether or not I have a cold. When this happens, I know that it’s really time for me to slow down.

If I choose to not slow down-- I find that I become extremely unproductive in an attempt to be productive. What I mean by that is: I don’t have the time to do anything. This isn’t true and does nothing but cause me to procrastinate which results in more stress. I look down at my to-do list apathetically and believe that it can’t be done. I stare down at the list, my body and mind shaking with anxiety wondering: Where do I even begin?

Here’s my strategy:

I take a break. Even though I don’t have “time” for it. I then prioritize my tasks and take a moment to strategize the best way to complete them. If I realize that I have taken on too much, I tell myself: “Everything’s going to be okay.” I then find a way to lighten my load.

By letting go of perfectionism, and adjusting my expectations appropriately-- I am better able to do the things I have to. This process also allows me to notice the things on the list that I don’t actually have to do-- but that my stressed-out self decided must be done.

It’s time to find your stress signals too!


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