Are You Ignoring The Symptoms of Too Much Stress?
Some of the most common symptoms of stress are headaches, neck pain, irritableness and difficulty concentrating. When you experience these symptoms, your body is trying to tell you something. Do you ignore these symptoms? I’ve certainly been guilty of this. I would say to myself, “I can’t take a break; I have a deadline to meet.” I’d take some Motrin and keep working. I would often skip lunch and eat a candy bar at my desk. I worked late so often that I was on a first name basis with the custodian, who arrived at the office when everyone else had already gone home.
What do you do when the “check engine light” comes on in your car? Do you ignore it? Do you cover up the warning light with a piece of duct tape and keep driving? Do you crank-up the music so you don’t have to hear the rattling and clanking sounds that are trying to tell you that your car needs urgent attention? Most likely, you would immediately take your car to a mechanic. Yes, it’s a hassle, but if you ignored the “service engine” light or the clanking noise, you know that you could end-up stranded on the side of the road, sitting in a broken-down car.
I used to take better care of my car than I did my body. I would have the oil changed every 3000 miles. I would make sure the tires were rotated and that I was following the manufacture’s recommendations for maintenance. However, at work, I pushed myself unrelentingly. My neck often hurt from staring at the computer screen for hours.
But eventually the symptoms became too loud to ignore. Neck and shoulder pain, stomach pain, irritableness and difficulty sleeping were becoming more and common for me. Are you having similar symptoms? What are these symptoms trying to tell you? Are they warning you that you need to take a break? Are they telling you to take a walk and enjoy the sunshine? Perhaps your headache is telling you to delegate or eliminate non-essential tasks. Even your irritableness may be asking you to spend some time having fun with friends and family.
Remember, self-care is not selfish. Just as your car needs fuel, regular maintenance, repairs, and cleaning, you need to nurture your physical, emotional and spiritual health. You only have one body. Unlike your car, you can’t trade it in for a new model. By taking care of your self you will be happier, healthier and have more energy to help others.
What “signals” does your body send when you have depleted your reserves? Share your thoughts in the box below. Also, if you haven’t done so already, I encourage you download a free copy of “Tame Your Stress In 7 Days or Less.” Just put your name and e-mail address in the box located above right. You will receive instant access to this powerful report and audio. It is filled with practical, proven strategies that will help you manage stress and enjoy life.