Last weekend, I had the unfortunate experience of becoming very suddenly completely overwhelmed. Looking back, I am unsurprised, but up until then, I was mostly unaware of how stressed and under pressure I’d become.
I am doing better now, but I certainly wouldn’t say I’m back at full steam. I am, however, able to identify some signs that I was, indeed, that stressed, red flags I could have picked up on in order to avoid the general breakdown that was my realizing just how much I have to do and just how much I’d been doing to hit my deadlines and goals.
I wouldn’t have been able to step back from everything, but I could have let up on some things and been proactive about stress-relieving behaviors.
I decided to write this post because 1-I might remember these better and keep more of an eye out in the future and 2-I’m always curious about how humans react to things, especially how I do, and hope that by my sharing, some of you might share your signs that you’re overstressed, too.
So here are 5 signs that I was far too stressed for far too long.
- Tired all the time. This happened gradually, so I didn’t really notice anything was different until I stopped to consider the last time I wasn’t tired most of the day. It was a couple weeks. That and constantly falling into mini-naps while doing my homework was a sure sign, and I think it was the first. I just figured it was a natural byproduct of the amount of work I had to do, forgetting that I have been just as busy but much more awake before.
- More time on social media. I tend not to like to scroll through social media for hours because it really wastes time, and it’s not actually a satisfying activity for me. However, I began to scroll through it every chance I got, including when I woke up and when I was about to go to bed. That’s really not helpful, but at the time, I found the mindlessness calming. I think I was actually reminding myself what life could be like if I didn’t have so many readings to do.
- No desire to do things I usually find fun. I like to read for-fun things. I also like to knit, and cross stitch, and dance. I also prefer to tidy my room every week or so to keep it mostly organized. All of those things started sliding, partially because of time restraints and partly because when I had free time I went straight to social media instead of something that really relaxes and rejuvenates me, like a good book. If the fun things in life start to disappear and you don’t even notice, something isn’t right.
- Brain wouldn’t calm down even after journaling. Since I’ve started the 365-Day Journal Challenge, my brain has been much more calm when I try to sleep, and it has done a lot to improve how long it takes me to sleep. My mind still going a mile a minute and requiring melatonin and/or relaxing sleep music to settle should have let me know I was getting to the end of what I could handle on a really high level of productivity.
- Awake until ridiculous hours of the night. The thing that really told me that I was far too stressed was when I was awake at 2:30 in the morning, tired but unable to keep my eyes closed, going through my previous week and what I needed to do in the next week, unable to relax enough to sleep despite melatonin and relaxing sleep music. I’m pretty on top of making sure I sleep enough no matter what is happening because if I get off a sleep schedule, it takes a while to get back on one. Being completely unable to sleep despite it being more than three hours passed my bedtime was the thing forced me to recognize just how stressed I really was.
So where am I at now?
Well, I have people in Glasgow and back in the States that are aware that the candle I’d been burning at both ends finally went out, and more importantly, I’m aware of where I’m at. So I’ve forced the relaxing and destressing things back into my life (dance class, knitting, podcasts) and reduced the things pressuring me by prioritising and putting something on the back burner to be added back in at a later point. I have somewhat overcompensated and spent a bit too much time in non-productive-for-school activity, but I also think that was necessary.
Am I still tired? Yes, but I think right now it has more to do with getting back from a dance ball at 2am last night.
My project this week is to get back to a balance instead of leaning one way or another on the activities in my week. And to go see Beauty and the Beast next Sunday, because I have full faith it’s going to be a great movie.
What are some signs that you’re stressed? How do you handle it?
Your Bonnie Celtophile,