Have you been suffering from chronic fatigue lately? Find yourself tossing and turning at night unable to shut off your brain? Feeling at a low… emotionally, physically or spiritually? Have you lost your appetite? Or are you binge eating from stress or boredom? Been looking for your mojo and can’t seem to find it anywhere?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone. Many women today are running on empty. I certainly feel a little like this lately. Now we all have stresses in our life… be it stress with our kids, in a marriage, in a career, financial pressures, or even the stress as a result of being stuck in traffic and running late for a meeting. But the key in all of this, is how we deal with it. Some deal better and take to exercise, healthy eating and a positive attitude to cope with stress. Some take to the bottle, to drugs, and to other toxic forms of self soothing. But, when stress and anxiety are not taken care of and are allowed to fly out of proportion, they start to feed off your body for survival and this leads to problems. I read a quote that I like “When you find yourself stressed, ask yourself one question: Will this matter in 5 years from now? If yes, then do something about the situation. If no, then let it go.” Catherine Pulsifer
I can recall a very stressful period in my life. I was running my business at the time, things were going great, as was my pregnancy with my first son, and then suddenly I found myself on bed-rest at 31 weeks pregnant. The lesson that bed-rest taught me: the art of surrendering… I learned to surrender. I ran my business from bed, my mom brought me my paperwork, and I touched base with my employees daily to keep on top of their sales opportunities. I left my financial life in the able hands of my accountant who had been with me since day one, five years prior. My accountant was doing all my numbers; budgeting, government submissions, payroll deductions and bank requisitions. But then I started noticing my bank account constantly in the red, and other red flags. I went to the office one day on bed-rest and discovered a bunch of missing cheques from my monthly bank statements. I then found three cheques made out to cash, with my forged signature. I physically became ill, and immediately thought it was one of my employees. I will not go into the long of it, but the short of it is, my accountant had stolen $48,000 from me over a period of 18 months. I know you ask how I allowed this to happen. The answer is complex…. part ignorance, part blind faith and trust, part inexperience, part naivety. But once I became physically ill from the stress, the tigress in me came out, and shit, did I fight for my god-damned life. I immediately hired the best forensic accountants in the city to uncover EVERY SINGLE FORGED CHEQUE …. AND THERE WERE HUNDREDS. After I threatened to call the police, he PAID ME EVERY DOLLAR, plus the huge accounting bill I was hit with to chase the paper trails. So, I know what stress can do to a body. The moral of the story… I will never allow myself to be vulnerable like this again.
But this is a different kind of stress. This is an acute stress. Today, I am talking about the stress that takes its toll over time. Stress we may not even realize is in fact there. Another line I read that I love– “The first mistake most of us make is that we try to operate as if we’re computers — at high speeds, for long periods of time, running multiple programs at the same time.” Wow, how true. So today, instead of giving you tips on how to cope with stress, I wanted to give you the SILENT SIGNALS that could indicate you may be more stressed than you think. Here are 10 warning signs that you may be more stressed than you realize, so you can nip it in the bud before it takes over your spirit. This is your wake-up call, my friends.
- Weekend headaches. When you suddenly decrease your stress level (as many do as soon as Friday night hits), this can prompt migraines. So, if you’re noticing specifically weekend headaches, this could be a sign that your weeks are weighing heavily on your body – emotionally and physically.
- Bad period cramps. Do you know that if you are stressed out, you are more than twice as likely to suffer from painful period cramps than those who are less tense (Harvard Study)? A great cure for painful menstrual cramps… hit the gym!
- An Achy Mouth. A sore jaw can be a sign of teeth grinding, which mostly occurs during sleep, and is often a result of stress. If you do grind your teeth, your dentist can provide you with a mouth guard which is very helpful in reducing or stopping teeth grinding.
- Odd Dreams. Do you know that your dreams usually get progressively more positive as you sleep, so that you wake up in a better mood than you were in when you went to bed (Rosalind Cartwright, PhD). But when you’re stressed, your body awakes more often, disrupting this process and allowing unpleasant imagery to recur all night. Improved sleep can help prevent this. For more info on getting better shut-eye time, click here.
- Bleeding Gums. Do you know that stressed out people have a higher risk of dental disease? That is because the stress hormone cortisol can impair the immune system thereby allowing bacteria to invade your gums. For some stress reduction tips, click here.
- Out of nowhere acne. Stress leads to inflammation that leads to breakouts. If the breakouts do come out of nowhere, to help calm them, try a lotion containing skin sloughing salicylic acid or bacteria-busting benzoyl peroxide. But remember, that’s just a band-aid. The whole point is not to ignore the warning signs which eventually could lead you to burnout or depression.
- A sweet tooth. The word is, it’s probably NOT your feminine hormones giving you those chocolate cravings, it’s more likely stress. Stress can be a big sweet tooth trigger.
- Itchy Skin. Stress activates nerve fibers causing an itchy sensation. So if you already have underlying skin conditions like dermatitis, psoriasis or eczema, stress can exacerbate it. Itchy skin is a clue into your stress levels.
- Worse than usual allergies. Stress hormones may stimulate the production of IgE, a blood protein that causes allergic reactions. Interesting.
- Stomach Aches. Anxiety and stress can certainly cause stomach aches, along with other conditions such as backaches, headaches and insomnia. One study found that men and women experiencing high levels of stress were more than three times more likely to suffer with abdominal pain.
So if you’ve been sitting on the fence too long trying to figure out how to cope with your life issues, know that everyone has something. My goal today is to awaken your mind and body to the warning signs before it’s too late. Most of us are too busy to feel our own bodies and notice the warning signs. If you feel like you’ve been running on empty, then fuel up– in every sense of the word. We often aren’t present and living in the moment. So I urge you to live in the moment, feel the highs, feel the lows, stay steady, stay attuned to your body, and listen to what it’s telling you. Your body has more wisdom than you can ever imagine.
I wish you much health and happiness.
And tell us ladies, have you ignored the warning signs in your life? How do you manage your stress? Do you have any tips for stress reduction that really work?