Stress is bad for mental and physical health. Being stressed leads to depression, heart disease, and even autoimmune disease. While stress may feel unavoidable, taking good care of yourself protects your health. But how many of us are really doing a very good job at self-care?
Signs you’re not taking care of yourself:
You’re not going to bed when you feel tired
Your body needs rest. If you’re staying up long after beginning to feel exhausted, sitting around in the artificial light, maybe staring at a backlight screen, your self-care habits need to be improved. Sleep serves a vital function to restore your mind and body. Without adequate sleep, day-to-day stress compounds, compromising overall health.
You’re drinking alcohol everyday (or almost every day)
Drinking alcohol may give you the sensation of feeling relaxed, but the effects of alcohol on your brain cause an increase in chronic stress. Alcohol interferes with the restful part of sleep (REM sleep) and drinking alcohol tonight leaves your nervous system depleted of vital neurotranmitters tomorrow.
You think about your responsibilities constantly
Your mind needs a break from work and responsibilities. Down time should include a little rest for the body, and for the mind. If you can’t take your mind off of the work that needs to be done, it may be time to learn some simple meditative exercises to help shift your attention. Taking a break from your mental to do list will improve the efficiency your mental work down the line.
You’re skipping meals
Your body and mind need nutrition in order to run smoothly. If you’re routinely working straight through lunch rather than pausing to re-fuel, your overall stress is likely to compound. Those extra hours of work come at a lower productivity level, and probably aren’t worth the long term cost.
You’ve stopped exercising
Exercise is the most important tool you can use for stress regulation. Getting your blood pumping will help clear out stress-produced toxins and raising your heart rate with healthy exercise keeps your cardiac and nervous systems running smoothly. If you’re not getting regular exercise, you’re not taking advantage of one of the simplest tools available to improve overall health and wellness.
You only drink caffeinated beverages
Coffee in the morning to get up and going, caffeinated teas, sodas, if you’re using caffeine to stay alert, it is also important to hydrate with non-caffeinated beverages. The benefits of caffeine start to wane if your body is not in a healthy fluid balance to begin with. Eventually, an overcaffeinated life style is bad for your health.
You’re holding all your feelings in
Expressing your emotions is a great way to alleviate stress related health problems. Talking to a friend, colleague, or counselor can help you re-organize your thoughts and problems solve to mange stress. Holding everything in leaves emotions to fester, increasing your overall stress level long term.
You’re not asking for help
If you’re feeling stressed, one of the most important things you can do is ask someone for help. Maybe your spouse can grab dinner on the way home so you won’t have to plan a meal. A co-worker can help get a project finished on time. A friend can recommend a good plumber. If life is getting a little overwhelming, it’s important to seek out support. If you don’t have anyone you can reach out to, try a member of the clergy, a life coach, or a mental health professional.