Signs to Slow Down
Are you always busy? In today’s fast-paced world, staying on top of things can be difficult and taxing on the body. Between balancing work, your social life, your family life, eating well, exercising and housekeeping, there’s not much time left in the day for YOU. While keeping yourself occupied is great, it’s important not to push yourself to beyond breaking point, and suffering both physically and mentally for it.
So how do you know when you’re approaching your limit? Here are 6 warning signs to look out for:
- You’re having trouble sleeping
If you are experiencing inconsistent sleep patterns (i.e. having difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or not waking up refreshed), it could be a sign that you’re doing too much, or that you’re stressed. If left unchecked poor sleep and stress can trigger each-other, creating a cycle that’s hard to break. If you feel that stress is affecting your sleep, consider how you might slow down, take some ‘you time’ and address it. You may choose to drop some activities, such as Friday night drinks or your 6am spin class, in order to prioritise your sleep routine and get some more ZZZ’s.
- You’re getting sick often
Impaired immunity and lingering health issues may also suggest your body is overworked. A healthy body should be able to fight off disease. Recurring illness such as colds and infections indicate a weakened immune system, which may be caused by extended periods of stress. Constantly feeling unwell is undeniably your body’s way of asking you to stop and rest.
- You’re craving caffeine and sugary foods
Overworking yourself may, in time, start to affect your stamina and energy levels. When we are stressed, the body releases a hormone called cortisol, which increases cravings for sugary, calorie rich foods - i.e. ‘quick energy’ sources. Caffeine is another energy booster than many people turn too when feeling depleted. However, whilst both sugar and caffeine work wonders for the first 30 minutes, have you noticed that your energy levels start to plummet after 1-2 hours, leaving you feeling worse off? Or, have you worried about sugar and/or caffeine affecting the quality of your sleep? Either way, excess sugar and caffeine is a recipe for disaster, so if you find yourself relying on either one (or both!), it may be time to put your brakes on and reassess!
- You’re stress eating
When going through a challenging period, it is incredibly common to start ‘stress eating’. Your overworked, under-rested brain is crying out for rewards, and certain foods are known to contain compounds that elevate your mood. However, unlike selecting nourishing options such as chamomile tea and yoghurt, most people reach for the calorie rich chocolate and ice-cream options. What’s more, stress eating is often rapid and ‘mindless’. Rather than enjoying a portion-controlled amount and stopping at the point of fullness, stress eaters consume food quickly, usually exceed ‘moderation’, and do not paying attention to their hunger/fullness cues. You may be halfway through a family block of Cadburys before realising what’s happening, and then feel frustrated with yourself. If this sounds like you, rest may help to reduce your stress eating, and will surely be the healthier coping strategy!
- Loss of appetite
For some, stress can have the opposite effect, reducing your appetite rather than increasing it. This can also be detrimental to your wellbeing. Whilst eating may be the last thing on your busy mind, skipping meals will eventually lead to low blood sugar levels, causing nausea, fatigue and lack of focus. Even the most motivated person cannot perform at their best without the proper nourishment! It may also affect your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to illness. If you feel a lack of food is affecting your productivity and wellness, give yourself permission to take a lunch break!
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
Your gut and brain are very closely aligned. For some people, this connection is overly sensitive, with periods of stress causing a variety of gut symptoms such as bloating, reflux, cramping, or changes in bowel habits. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, stress may be a big contributor to your symptoms. Addressing the cause of your stress may give you the freedom to eat with less restrictions, as well as improve your comfort and quality of life.