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5 Telltale Signs of Burnout and Overstress

Health | Stress

Stress is a scary thing. It can wear you down and tear you apart from the inside out.

Stress is one of the few factors that is largely related to the vast majority of physical ailments, from things as small as canker sores to illnesses as chronic and serious as heart disease. The silent killer, stress can lead to many damaging physical maladies.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed by life, stress seems to inevitably knock at your door inching you closer and closer to the edge. Burnouts can sometimes be a minor, gentle but firm reminder that you need to take care of yourself and sometimes can be full-on detrimental breakdowns.

If you notice one or more of the following occurring in your body, take a moment to take a step back and reassess what is happening in your life to optimize it for the safety and wellbeing of your body and mind.

1. You have a cut/canker sore/blister/bruise, etc. that just won’t heal.

According to numerous psychological studies, stress can affect the body’s ability to heal itself — a scary and sobering thought. This magnificent design of a body that you inhabit cannot properly function when your mind is stressed and/or overworked.

Stress triggers a release of hormones that can literally block your body’s healing process during several key points. Evidence has shown that people whose stress levels tested higher than normal took significantly longer to heal from minor injuries and were also more susceptible to infection.

2. You’ve been burping a lot.

A certainly less obvious sign of stress is having little, short burps escape from your lips too often to even recognize anymore. The most likely culprit is swallowing small little bursts of air and then immediately releasing it afterwards.

This pattern can be caused by short, shallow breathing patterns or perhaps an addiction to gum or mints or nervous chatter. Whatever the reason, this evidence is a very real sign that burnout is dooming ahead without a serious stress check.

3. Your short naps are taking you to another world.

Dreams are an incredible display of the subconscious. These visions meet us during the REM cycle of our sleep. While it typically takes about 90-minutes of solid, uninterrupted rest to reach the REM phase of sleep, those who are super stressed and/or sleep deprived may peek at this cycle much earlier in their sleep.

So if you’re experiencing wild, vivid dreams during a short catnap, it is likely a sign that your brain is rushing to reach this rejuvenating phase of your sleep cycle.

Naps are a great way to take care of yourself and manage high stress levels, but they should not be used to replace a lifetime of sleep deprivation. One late night can warrant a nap. But one nap won’t make up for a year of stressful all-nighters.

4. You’ve forgotten the meaning of “memory.”

Memory can sometimes be a fickle thing. One day you may be sharp and on point, and the next you may feel as though you’ve forgotten the spelling of your own name.

This can be a tricky effect that exhaustion plays on the mind. When your brain is preoccupied with stress or exhaustion, it subconsciously classifies all other information as irrelevant and unnecessary (thus, why you have no clear recollection of it).

So the next time you think that Alzheimer’s is taking its very, very early toll on your 30-year-old brain, think again. It’s much more likely that stress and exhaustion have their hands mixed into this mess.

5. Caffeine doesn’t affect you.

Caffeine affects everyone, whether you swear by it or against it. Of course there are discrepancies from person to person about how intense the effects may be, but no one is immune to its power.

So all those people who swear that they can take six shots of espresso just before passing out? They’re actually not lying. They don’t hold the magical antidote to caffeine that we all wish we had one time or another when we’re tossing and turning in bed cursing that last macchiato.

They are simply excessively tired. When people are incredibly tired and stressed, their brains produce excessive amounts of calm-inducing neurotransmitters to put them to rest. So even though caffeine may be speeding them up, their body’s stronger defense mechanisms are slowing them down, creating a neutralized effect of the caffeine or seemingly no effect at all.

Stress and exhaustion are tell-tales signs to slow down and let go. Before allowing your body to reach the unhealthy state of burnout, beware of these telling signs. And if or when you experience these signs of burnout, let them be a big red flag that something needs to be re-evaluated in your life before your body takes things into its own hands.

Combining meditation and gentle yoga poses, The 30 Day Meditation Challenge is a great place to start so you can feel completely relaxed in your mind, heart, and body.

Featured in New York Magazine, The Guardian, and The Washington Post
Featured in the Huffington Post, USA Today, and VOGUE

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