Common signs of stress overload include anxiety, forgetfulness, insomnia, fatigue and irritability. If these sound familiar, be aware that chronic stress can lead to serious physical and mental problems such as depression, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity.
Here are some ways to manage stress and keep it from making you sick:
Write it Down. List all the things that cause you stress. Check off problems that you currently have the power to solve. Start by solving the smaller problems – this can give you confidence to tackle the larger ones.
Organize. Keeping a daily or weekly to-do list can help you figure out which items are most important; do those first.
Just Say No. Avoid over-scheduling. Be honest with yourself about what you can accomplish, and say no to the rest.
Get Moving. Exercise helps you relax, improves your mood and fights symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Be Kind to Your Body. Eat well-balanced meals and get enough sleep (7-9 hours). Avoid smoking, excess alcohol and overeating; they make matters worse.
Get a Hobby. Make the time for enjoyable, stress-relieving activities like sports, clubs and volunteering to help others.
Talk it Out. Sharing your problems with family and friends may make you feel better; also, others can sometimes offer helpful solutions.
Breathe. Meditation, yoga, deep breathing, simple stretches and massaging your own shoulders and neck are all good ways of relieving tension.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services