Modern life can often be stressful. If it is stressful over a long period it can lead to fatigue, burnout, health and relationship problems. Without proper self-care, rest, relaxation and time, even the most resilient of us will reach a stage where we fall apart.
The most common cause of long term stress is working too hard. Our culture promotes this by valuing ‘high achievers’ and demanding long working hours, long commutes and targets, targets, targets. This culture has filtered down to schools, with more children now suffering stress due to the culture of testing and achievement prevalent. Modern communications add to this, with an expectation that people can be instantly reached and are always available. This culture comes into the home, so that parenting becomes stressful, always another activity to take the kids to or more homework and tests to worry about.
Burnout is the result of too much stress for too long. The results can be very varied, from physical illness through to depression, anxiety, broken relationships or suicide. It is insidious because it happens over time, often many years, so it can be hard to see it because it happens gradually. Sometimes you don’t see it until your body gives you a wake up call, often by way of a heart attack or other serious illness.
Earlier signs of stress heading towards burnout might be as simple as feeling unable to stop and relax. Other signs include sleeping problems, sweating, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating. You may feel anxious, irritable or lose confidence, worry constantly or go over things in your head. You may notice that you lose your temper more easily, drink more or act unreasonably. Headaches, muscle tension or pain, and dizziness can all be signs that stress is causing you problems.
Dealing with stress can be tough because it not only asks you to change your habits, it may demand you change your life. If the problem is mild or occasional, then relaxation, exercise and changes in diet may be sufficient. If stress has become chronic or severe, you may need to make considerable changes to life, relationships and career. If this is how it feels for you, give me a call as talking it through in a safe environment can help you find the right choices for you.