Dealing with stress at work is something everyone has to learn to live with, no matter what kind of job you have and no matter how many time management workshops you’ve attend ed. It also comes in waves — just when you think life is getting easier and your stress more manageable, something comes up and makes you feel work-life stress more intensely. It can be defeating, and when you have a job to get done stress is the last thing you want on your mind.
So what happens when the stress in your life becomes too much? You burn out. Burnouts from work are all too common for people to deal with, but it’s something that isn’t talked about very often. It’s not something people admit to having because everyone thinks they can get over it if they give it time. The following signs could mean you’re on your way to burnout. Choose to prevent the side effects before they happen.
You Could Be At Risk For Overeating
Eating comfort food is the easiest and fastest way to make yourself feel better when you’re stressed. You’ve been on edge all day at work, and you can’t help but think of indulging in bowls of macaroni and cheese when you get home or ordering hot, greasy fast food to help you relax.
While your stress level is at an all-time high, your body instinctively shuts down the need to eat, leading to overeating once removed from the stressful situation. This leads people to become hungrier than normal at meal times, causing an increased calorie intake, which hurts long term more than it helps in the short term.
If you know that this is how you typically deal with stress, try making meals ahead of time and dividing your food into portion sizes. Plan your lunches for the week on Sunday, so you know you only have a certain amount of food for each day. Use a small plate for dinner instead of a big one to keep your spoonful’s of food to a smaller size. Buy lots of green food! Vegetables and fruits are good to have on hand when tempted to overeat.
Stress Can Lead To Addictions
Besides the negative side effects that hurt your body after you overeat on a regular basis, stress can hurt your body in indirect ways as well. You may have stressful days and look forward to having a beer with your dinner or taking some sleeping medication to knock you out earlier than usual. While these can be a method of stress relief that isn’t bad, going overboard with your intake can be detrimental.
Stress can lead to drinking or drug reliance, which creates addictions and a struggle you’ll have for the rest of your life. You may even have a problem and not know it since some of the short-term effects of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) don’t come across as strikingly terrible.
In order to prevent addictions before they start, keep alcoholic drinks to a minimum in your house. Keep extra beers or wines out of the fridge, so you won’t crack open an additional cold beer or glass with dinner if feeling inclined. Only buy drugs like sleep or pain medication when you truly need them. You don’t need the help of substances to overcome your stress.
Work Stress Just Hurts Your Body
You don’t have to consume anything to hurt yourself because of stress. Your body will do that for you. When overwhelmed, your body changes how it releases hormones and pumps blood. In addition to other side effects, your jaw tenses up and the blood flowing to your neck and brain decreases. The next time you recognize you’re stressed at work, take a second to roll your shoulders or take a walk down the hall.
You Might Get Sick
The reason you’re probably stressed is because you have a large amount of work to get done in a narrow time frame, with more added to it every day. When stress makes you sick, it can cause you to lose time at work, which is ironic in more ways than one.
Stress doesn’t cause just one kind of sickness either. Stress can give you headaches, upset your stomach for days or even make you break out in hives. It affects everyone differently, so while the person in the cubicle next to yours might get sick and have headaches, you could get stressed and be in bed for days. To keep this from happening, fight stress by exercising in your free time or breaking routines when you can. Anything to keep your brain from feeling trapped and overworked.
You’ll Lose Vacation Days
Everyone loves seeing their paid time off pile up, dreaming of the vacations they could take with it or sick days they have to fall back on if they need to. But if you’re so stressed that you’re always at work, you’ll end up losing the time off you really need. Taking time away from the office will relieve your stress in better ways than most, even if you stay at home and watch movies all day.
The bad part about vacation days is most employers don’t let them sit around forever, so at the end of quarters or work years, they get erased, and you have to start from scratch. Meanwhile, your mind and body are suffering because they need a break. Schedule time off as far ahead as possible to give yourself something to look forward to, and put a pause on your stress when you can. Those vacation days are meant to be used, so take advantage and help reduce your stress levels.
Stress can steal away your peace of mind and even your health, and it’s not always avoidable. Burnouts sometimes happen whether you try to fight them off or not, and that’s okay. Make sure you know how to take care of yourself before and after your stress gets the best of you, or the lasting effects could end up hurting you more than you realize.
By Lexie Lu
Lexie Lu is a freelance designer and blogger. She enjoys researching the latest trends and always has a cup of coffee in close proximity. She manages Design Roast. Think Productive Canada can be followed on Twitter @thinkproductivecanada