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Recognizing the signs of stress

The past year has created its fair share of stress in various corners of our lives. Everyone has a different way of grappling with change depending on their personality, whether it’s related to work, family, relationships, or even finances. Many people have faced – and continue to face – significant challenges, and their values have been shaken to their core. Some people are better at adapting to new situations than others; it all depends on a variety of systemic and value-driven factors. In these critical moments, sources of stress can become amplified and sometimes cause us harm.

In March 2020, we explored a few tips for reducing anxiety. We’re including them here as a helpful refresher alongside a few additional points:
• Get outside whenever mother nature cooperates! Enjoy some fresh air, a walk, and a few deep breaths.
• Maintain your social ties. Even if the current conditions are more restrictive, and even if you don’t quite feel like it, give a friend or family member a call, or take a quick break with a colleague. Do what feels right!
• When things become too overwhelming, step away from the news and conversations about current events. Whether it’s TV, radio, or social media, unplug completely. These outlets only serve to fuel your anxiety, given that our personal situations are already difficult enough.
• Exercise to release tension.
• Meditate. Even if it’s just 5 minutes per day, you’ll start seeing the benefits in no time. After just 8 weeks of daily meditation for 10 minutes, you’ll begin observing physiological changes.

Here are some signs of excessive stress you should be looking out for:
• Your appetite has dramatically increased or decreased.
• You are sleeping too much or not enough.
• You have distanced yourself from people or activities you love.
• You have little to no energy.
• You feel numb, as if nothing matters anymore.
• You have inexplicable pain or soreness.
• You feel more confused, angry, nervous, irritable, or worried than usual.
• You have lost respect for others; you shout and bicker often.
• You feel helpless.
• You are experiencing significant mood swings that are impacting your relationships.
• You are thinking of harming yourself or others.
• You are smoking, drinking, and/or taking drugs more frequently than usual.
• You are not able to complete daily tasks.

Don’t forget, stress and anxiety are physiological reactions caused by our perception of reality. If your perception changes, your anxiety will decrease as a result. There are many factors that can influence perception, and the way we see the world does not always reflect the truth.

Protect your thoughts and you will protect your health.

Thoughts create emotions, and emotions dictate our mental state. Tell me what you’re thinking today, and I’ll tell you how you’re going to feel tomorrow.