Stress: Do You Know When It Takes Hold of You?
In a text I had mentioned that I felt lethargic for the greater part of the day. I was convinced that somehow I was managing to become sick. Or, perhaps what I was feeling was a sign of spring, I thought to myself. Kelly, the source of my greatest joy, had another thought.
I could tell this weekend that you were different. I could tell at least that you seemed stressed a bit. Maybe you've worn yourself out on all of the things you've been working on. You've been eating, drinking, and sleeping that blog for months now.
“I seemed stressed?” was my response. Clearly, I was not yet acknowledging stress as an option. That would mean my joy of inspiring the lives of others was stressing me out. I was not willing to accept that, but based on what was happening to me, maybe stress had gotten a hold of me.
Stress Will Make You Do Unhealthy Things
Saturday morning I was slow to get out of bed. I was exhausted. It would be the second Saturday in a row that I did not do my long run. Since I had skipped the Saturday long run, I would do it on Sunday. At least, that was the plan.
Instead I did a T25 Core Speed workout, but feeling worn down, I struggled through it. Monday morning was pretty much a repeat of Sunday morning when I did T25 The Pyramid. On top of that, as I previously mentioned, throughout the work day I felt lethargic. What in the world was happening to me?
All weekend I craved foods I knew I should not have. Ribs. Fries. Sugary treats. Bread. The only thing I did not have were fries. Again, what was happening to me?
Signs of Stress: Are You Listening?
Kelly explained why she believed stress was what was happening to me. Her response is in the following image of our text exchange. Excuse the iPhone typos.
If you cannot see the image, the signs of my stress are listed below. Do you recognize any of these signs?
1. Change in eating habits. Foods I rarely consider eating were exactly what I was craving. To ease my stress and to feel better I was longing for comfort foods.
2. Not enough sleep. I was not getting enough sleep because I was staying up way after my bedtime several nights in a row. Not having a solid nights sleep can be a sign of stress. In my case, not having enough rest was adding to the stress.
3. Struggling to workout. Only a month earlier I had let my personal trainer know that I nearly freak out if I cannot workout. But, there I was, practically forcing myself to get out of bed as a result of being so physically and mentally drained.
Get a Handle on Your Stress
It is important that we get a handle on our stress. If not addressed, stress can lead to health risks such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, just to name a few. How can we get a handle on stress before it has a chance to take an unwanted hold on us?
1. Recognize you are stressed. An executive coach that I know, and subscriber to this blog, recently said to me that even if you cannot recall what to do when you are stressed, recognizing stress is a good start. When you recognize that you are stressed, you can immediately take action to do something about it.
2. Do not allow your stressors to rule you. When you know what your stressors are, acknowledge them, but do not allow them to take over your life.
For example, though the text above gives the impression that this blog, and everything that comes along with it, stresses me, the true stress comes from me. I have a “must be great at everything that I do” problem. That lends itself to me going over the top to reach my goals, which takes over my life.
3. Make you your #1 priority. We all have demands on our lives, but what good are we to our employers, our families, or even our blog followers if we are run down? Shouldn't our focus be to give them the best of us rather than what is left of us? Do what you need to do to put yourself first so you can give your best.
As for me, I am putting myself first by going back to my sleeping schedule. If I have to stop in the middle of what I am doing, so be it. By putting myself first, I will be giving you, my employer, the love of my life, and my family and friends my best. There is no stress in that.