It’s common for people to deny stress. It can be emotionally overwhelming to admit that we’re stressed out and we’re not sure how to fix it. The body is another matter. You’ll feel the stress in the way your jaw clenches, or the way your shoulders hunch, or even in the headaches you seem to be getting more and more often. Stress doesn’t just mess up our minds; it can do bad things to our entire body. Mentally, you may feel too exhausted to address it. You may feel like you have to just keep pushing forward until circumstances change and the stress levels drop. But at some point, your body and mind will both pay for it.
Take A Step Back
Start by examining the source of the issue. Is work the problem? You probably can’t quit your job, but maybe you can take a mental health day. If you’re in the middle of a big project and can’t just call out on any given Wednesday, then look at your calendar and find a day that will work. If the big project is due in a week, plan on taking a day off a week and a half from now. That way you won’t feel like you’re leaving anyone in the lurch, but you can still get a much-needed break. As long as you aren’t taking mental health days every week, you should probably be fine. A good boss won’t mind you taking a personal day every now and then. If your boss is the micromanaging type who does mind, then you’ve unfortunately got bigger problems, and it might be time to start putting out feelers for a new job.
Even seemingly small things can help relieve some of your burden. If you’re traveling a lot for work, consider hiring a car service to take you to and from the airport. That will save you the trouble of navigating airport traffic, and it should also give you a few minutes to breathe deeply and try to center yourself before heading into the airport maelstrom. As a bonus, you won’t have to worry about finding a place to park your car.
If work isn’t the problem, then maybe you’re stressed about a situation at home. Perhaps your relationship with your significant other feels like it’s on shaky ground, or maybe you’re having trouble connecting with one of your children. Remind yourself that such situations are common in relationships. They don’t mean that everything is doomed. Clear communication can go a long way, so try to sit down with your partner and truly talk about what’s bothering you. Use “I feel” words, as they’re more neutral than phrases like “You always” or “You never.” A few honest conversations and some quality time together can go a long way toward mending any rifts.
Finally, you have to get some sleep. Sleep is usually one of the first things to fall by the wayside during times of intense stress, but it has to be a priority. Your room should be a safe space, not a place where you toss and turn and worry about what awful things might happen tomorrow. If your room is too quiet, look into a white noise machine. If your pillow isn’t comfortable, explore the possibility of buying a water pillow. If your partner snores or hogs the covers, buy earplugs and/or a separate set of covers just for you. If none of that works, see your doctor, who may recommend you go through a sleep study. But good sleep is the foundation for a happy, productive life. Without it, you’re just setting yourself up for unpleasantness.