There's no denying that life has its ups and downs. This ebb and flow is part of the natural human process. And yet, with the advent of 24/7 news, constant social media notifications and a seemingly endless procession of Tweets, posts and updates, it can quickly feel like things are spiraling out of control.
The workplace is no different. While technology has allowed us to become more connected than ever before, it's also placed new stresses on our environment.
In order to build and develop a successful business, you need an array of different ingredients that coalesce to form a coherent and successful whole. But there's one key ingredient that's far more important than your product or service.... That ingredient is you.
To combat feelings of stress, anxiety or worry, let's take a look at seven tell-tale signs you're headed for a stress-induced breakdown, and discover what you can do to stop this from happening. Remember, if you're feeling stressed, it's important to seek professional medical advice. In the meantime, here are a number of ways you can take action to remedy the situation.
How To Recognize and Prevent A Stress Breakdown
Stress is a real and serious problem, both in the workplace and outside it. Almost all of us can point to certain times in our career when everything seemed to be falling out of place. But before you get to that point, it's important to recognize consistent patterns and behaviors that suggest you're on a dangerous path.
1. Loss of interest in usual activities, work or hobbies
When you lose the will and desire to perform regular activities (take the gym, for instance) or fall behind on basic requirements at work, something is clearly amiss. One way to stop this from spiraling out of control is to make a simple to-do list every morning. Categorize your day into "top-priority", "achievable" and "extras". This helps you break things down, regain control of your priorities and make practical plans to get back on top of your life.
2. Low energy
Low energy is a clear sign that something isn't quite right, and it's often a precursor to bigger problems like depression or anxiety. If you can, try to spend at least 30 minutes every day doing some form of light exercise. This not only produces serotonin and dopamine in the brain (the body's natural painkillers), but it can help motivate you to perform better in the workplace.
3. Being 'on edge', jumpy or agitated
Everyone knows that feeling of being particularly on edge or agitated. Stress manifests itself physically in the body, so in order to overcome it we must find new ways of making our body work for us. Meditation is scientifically proven to reduce levels of cortisol in your body (nature's stress hormone), and according to one Harvard neuroscientist, can even change the chemistry in your brain.
4. Feeling alone or lonely (even in a room full of people)
Feelings of severe loneliness often signal something is wrong. The first and most important step to take is to realize that loneliness is a feeling, not a fact. Next, get honest with another human being. When we keep things to ourselves, we allow our minds to play tricks on us. Find a family member, close friend or loved one that you trust, and be honest with how you feel. Simply talking about loneliness has the surprising effect of reducing it.
5. Social withdrawal
As human beings, we're wired to be with other people, but it's easy to fall into patterns of isolation without even realizing it. Personal time is important, but when it results in near total social withdrawal, something needs to change. Start making gradual changes by reaching out to friends and family and make a list of activities you'd like to schedule. It can be as simple as walking your dog with your best friend, but get up, be positive and do something with others.
6. Trouble sleeping
Get this: nearly 70 million Americans suffer from some sort of sleep disorder. So don't worry, you're not alone. Studies have shown that getting between 7-9 hours of sleep per night relieves stress, reduces the risk of chronic diseases and even helps muscles and the brain repair and restore proper function. If you're a work-a-holic, burnout is a real and tangible problem. Remember that sleep is essential to success, so switch off your laptop and iPhone and try reading a book for 30 minutes prior to bed.
7. Angry outbursts
At the root of all anger lies fear. Remember the acronym for FEAR--False Evidence Appearing Real. If you want a scientifically proven way to reduce fear, anger and stress hormones in your body, why not try yoga? One hour of yoga increases levels of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which inhibits stress responses in the body and is even used in the pharmacological treatment of anxiety, depression and anger.