How much is too much? Between deadlines, work, play and everything in between, our bodies and minds can act as the indicator we too often ignore when it comes to judging when we’re pushing ourselves too far.
So what are the signs that we should look out for to know when we’re fast approaching breaking point? We asked Naturopathic Doctor, Esthetician and Get The Gloss Expert Dr Nigma Talib for the symptoms of stress we shouldn’t ignore and for her top tips for stopping them in their tracks before they start wreaking havoc with our health.
5 signs of stress
1. Round-the-clock tiredness
Feeling drained literally all day long? This could be an indication that you’re running on empty. “You may be overdoing it when you feel tired all the time (physically, emotionally and mentally),” says Dr Talib. “You find you don't have the energy to self-nurture and instead engage with unhealthy habits that help you cope: too much alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise, eating too much or too little. You tend to have more digestive disturbances, poor sleep and feeling wired but tired.”
2. It becomes hard to get up in the morning and get your day started
Has your get up and go gone? “You may be overdoing it when you don't wake up feeling refreshed and you feel unenthusiastic about work or pleasure,” says Dr Talib.
3. Feeling negative and less patient
“You may be overdoing it when you feel like you aren't getting enough done at work,” says Dr Talib. “You may feel that you should be achieving more than you have, even though you are working at full capacity. You can tend to feel negative more than positive and more pessimistic than you used to.”
4. You’re not performing well at work
It may seem that taking more on at work could improve your career prospects, but it could actually be doing the opposite in the long-term if you’re overdoing it. “As hard as you are working, you aren't able to problem solve or make decisions that are optimal for your job. You find that in doing too much you are more forgetful. You seem to be continually thinking about work even though you aren't at work and think about tasks that need doing.”
5. Conflict at home and at work
Another key sign to look out for is if you’re feeling more irritable and argumentative than usual and are unable to switch off when the working day is over. “Life at home and work seems to be affecting you more than usual and you start to have more arguments with your co-workers and with your housemates, friends, family members and partners. This happens as your body isn't able to handle the burden of the overdoing it habit you’ve developed and as a result, your body and brain cannot focus. Everything around you feels like a threat as your body is in a constant fight or flight response,” explains Dr Talib.
Sound familiar? Here's how to solve it
“Take charge,” says Dr Talib. Here are her top tips to better equip body and mind for the strains of modern living.
Make time for hobbies
Hobbies: it is never too late to find something that has nothing to do with work; something that you enjoy and feel satisfied doing.
Find a hobby or exercise routine that can be sports-related. Find a partner to enjoy your activities with so that you can stay motivated to continue. Try taking a meditation class and learn how to belly breathe.
Choose activities that allow you to ‘switch off’
Take holidays often and go out to the countryside and take long walks in nature.
Volunteer at your favourite charity. By getting involved in community activity or a charity you support, you can direct your attention away from focusing on only work stress. Research has indicated giving back to society can improve your overall happiness and help you de-stress too.
Less than 7 hours of sleep per night is a major risk factor for increased risk of chronic fatigue, increased sensitivity to stressful situations and can cause cognitive decline. Sleep is the foundation for health, wellness and optimal functioning.
Organic, hormone and antibiotic-free ‘grass-fed’ meats: by choosing this type of meat you will avoid contaminants such as E.coli and various other bacteria that live on the surface of meat.
High-quality, wild fish: wild fish has more rich sources of Omega 3 than farmed.
Organic vegetables and fruits: these are more nutrient-rich than non-organic. Additionally, you can avoid pesticide exposure.
High-quality fibre: increase your fibre to help regulate your digestion and eliminate toxins and excess cholesterol and lipids. Choose organic ground flaxseeds to your diet every day to help optimise your fibre intake.
Protein shakes: drink protein shakes if you are craving sugar or carbohydrates to help control your stress levels. Choose hemp, rice or pea protein sources.
Water: your body is made out of mainly water and where there is pollution, there needs to be dilution. Drink 1.5-2 litres of water a day.
Supplements: take high quality supplements to support stress levels, (speak to your practitioner about a dose that is suitable for you).
B vitamins: support your adrenal glands (stress glands) during stressful times.
Up your vitamin D and vitamin C levels: if you live in the UK, chances are you are deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin C is good for when changing seasons and if you are going through higher than normal amounts of stress too.