Stress is an overarching theme in most of our lives. Though we’re all busy, everyone finds time to talk about being stressed, unable to meet the competing demands of work and family, not to mention friends, hobbies, and self-care.
This is a difficult way to live — and whether or not our culture requires such stressful excess — maintaining a breakneck pace can sabotage your ability to enjoy your day-to-day existence. Everyone handles stress differently, but some people are less able to adapt to it than others.
Here are 5 signs you need to handle stress differently.
1. You Feel Enraged on a Regular Basis
If you find yourself struggling with severe anger, including road rage, on a near-daily basis, this is a sign that you need to find healthy outlets to deal with stress.
Anger is hard on you mentally and physically, and can lead to impulsive choices you regret, such as violence. If you find it hard to keep your rage in check, you need to reevaluate your methods for dealing with stress.
2. You Frequently Experience Somatic (Body) Pain
Migraines, back pain, and IBS are just some examples of physical issues that are often caused or exacerbated by stress. Internalized stress can manifest in physical aches and pains, and, if left untreated, can yield more and more severe health issues. If you’re taking sick days regularly for these physical kinds of issues, you are likely further exacerbating your stress and anxiety by missing work or school.
3. You Feel Isolated From Friends and Family
Confiding in others is a great way to lower stress levels, but if you feel that you have no time to see friends or family, you can’t even discuss or share your issues with them. If you feel like it’s been “forever” since you have spent time with the people who are most important to you, then this loneliness is likely compounding your stress.
4. Others Tell You That You Seem Stressed
If you’re hearing from friends, family, or loved ones that you seem stressed and they imply that it is affecting their relationships with you, you might do well to listen to their issues.
Examples of this include: a partner saying they feel like they have to walk on eggshells around you when you have had a bad day at work, a friend saying that you disappear into a black hole and stop answering texts regularly for weeks at a time, your boss pointedly asking if “something is wrong,” or your child saying that you always seem busy, even at home. Stress that sabotages your closest relationships needs to be examined and dealt with openly and proactively.
5. You’re Barely Keeping Your Head Above Water
If you feel that you are unable to see the big picture or plan for the future because you’re just keeping your head above water, it may be time to slow down and reprioritize. If you feel like you can’t think about larger career, life, or relationship goals because you’re so consumed by daily stressors, then you are denying yourself the opportunity to derive meaning from your life and plan for the future.
It is essential to mental health to see your life as a coherent narrative; to think you are the protagonist in a story that makes sense to you. If you are barely surviving, you cannot be thriving in any larger sense.
It’s Unhealthy to Live with Excess Stress, Find Help Today
If any of these signs of stress feel familiar to you, it would be a good idea to reach out to a therapist. You deserve to enjoy your life, and this requires you to find more adaptive and healthy ways to deal with stress. Changing your responses to stress can change your life outlook and help you feel calmer and happier. You’ll have the resources to devote to aligning your values and goals, and start living a life that feels more authentic and meaningful.