How many times have you felt overwhelmed?
We're not programmed to go through life without rest, solitude or downtime. So when we keep an unrelentingly busy pace, we can get blindsided by stress and burnout. That's why it's essential to know the somewhat surprising and far-ranging symptoms of overload.
"The symptoms of stress can include head and muscle aches, upset stomach, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, lack of focus, over- or undereating, angry outbursts and social withdrawal," said Dr. Tiffany Casper, a family physician for the Mayo Clinic Health System. "No one is superhuman. You need to recognize and then respect your limits."
Here are Casper's tips:
Ask yourself, "What's important now?"
If you're driving, pay attention to the road. If you're having dinner with a friend, be engaged and present. Don't be on your phone. It's distracting and disrespectful.
Quantify the commitment.
Before you agree to sit on a committee or host a dinner party, recognize that it will take time, probably more than you anticipate. Factor that into decisions about what's worth your time. Be willing to say no.
Make yourself unavailable.
It's OK — in fact, it's important — to set aside time for yourself. Schedule it on your calendar, and don't let other responsibilities encroach on that time. This may mean saying no to some requests.
It's also important to maintain healthful habits, like getting enough sleep, eating healthful meals and exercising regularly. □