Sometimes we can become so chronically stressed that we're not even aware how out of balance our lives have become. Often we hear about people who were given a dire wake-up call in the form of a major health issue, a breakdown or a crisis.
It doesn’t need to come to that. Pay attention to the signs below to notice when you're becoming overstressed, and take the necessary steps to simplify your life.
1. Your phone has become an extension of your body.
The Internet and social media of course have their merits, but unfortunately they can also be highly addictive. Do you find yourself compulsively checking Facebook or Twitter as soon as you’ve woken up? Or scrolling through newsfeeds whenever you have a spare moment? This hungry search for information and instant gratification is wiring us to constantly look outside of ourselves, and our virtual connectivity has led to a deep disconnection to ourselves and the world around us.
2. You are having trouble sleeping.
Difficulty staying asleep, falling asleep or waking unrefreshed are all indicative of an over-primed nervous system. If you've noticed that your sleep has become off-kilter, it is time to pay attention to what your body is telling you and actively address the stressors in your life.
3. You suffer from frequent infections or chronic health issues.
Just like poor sleeping, poor immunity and chronic health problems are another message from your body that something needs to change in your life. As well as consulting with a health professional and improving your diet, take some quiet time alone and mentally ask your body what it needs from you. Using your non-dominant hand to journal the answers will help you to tap into the wisdom of your subconscious mind, and you may be surprised with what comes out.
4. You can't remember the last time you did something nice for yourself.
When is the last time you went for a long walk on the beach, took a candlelit bath, got a massage or just spent the whole weekend resting and relaxing? Slowing down and taking time for yourself is not lazy or selfish, but essential to recharge your batteries so that you can be your best you.
5. You no longer care what you are putting into your body.
You're busy, I get it. And I know how when things get hectic, the first thing to go is good eating habits. But when this goes on for too long, your well-being starts to suffer and your stress only increases — making us less able to cope with life’s demands. Healthy eating needs to be a priority, as does eating mindfully. Scarfing down your food on the run, in front of the TV or with worries on your mind hinders your ability to be in touch with your body and means you will be much more likely to overeat, suffer from indigestion or eat lifeless foods that don't support your vitality.
6. You can’t remember the last time you had a good cry.
Emotions are a normal part of everyday life, provided they're acknowledged, felt or expressed. When you're constantly on the run and out of touch with your inner life, you probably suppress or ignore your feelings. This can lead to chronic low-grade anxiety or depression.
When you slow down a little, you're able to tune in to how you're really feeling, and give your feelings an outlet — whether that means having a good cry, punching pillows, journaling or speaking up about certain issues in your relationships.
7. You are consumed with chasing external goals.
Most people have been conditioned to seek happiness outside of themselves, whether that's through attaining enough money, having the right relationship, looking good or advancing in their careers. If you rarely allow yourself time to watch a sunset, slowly sip a cup of tea, reach out to the people you love or just allow yourself and your life to be enough, in this moment, then you're going too fast and robbing yourself of what life is truly about.
Once you've identified these signs, the next step is to take active steps that inhibit constant movement. Meditation is a great starting place, and there are countless mindfulness methods that almost anyone can incorporate into her daily life. Find one that works for you, and in no time you'll start feeling more relaxed and at peace.
Want to learn to slow down? I've put together a free online meditation course for beginners.