Frustrated Woman

Though some stress is pretty much unavoidable from day to day, it should not be considered to be a “normal” part of your life when it is causing you to feel constantly overwhelmed, or to the point of a nervous breakdown or full burnout.

Before reaching your breaking point, your body will give you signals that it is near. Unfortunately, many of us don’t recognize these signs or may ignore them altogether. Here are 3 signs of chronic stress that you definitely shouldn’t ignore.

1. Stressed-Out Skin

There are many ways you can feel stress on an emotional level, but when it comes to physical changes, the signs may or not be subtle. Your skin is often a good indicator of how you are feeling on a daily basis.

Have you ever noticed that you get acne breakouts when you are stressed? That can be a physical manifestation of a stressed-out mind and body. If you have a skin condition like rosacea or eczema that seems to have flared up, both of these inflammatory skin conditions can be exacerbated by stress.

2. Physical Aches and Pains

While many of the signs of stress are emotional or mental, they can occur in physical ways as well. Aside from changes in your skin, you might also begin to notice chronic pain.

Some common sources of stress-related pain include headaches and migraines, backache, and digestive issues, just to name a few. When you have physical pain that doesn’t seem to go away and is not obviously related to another cause (like that questionable seafood you may have eaten the night before), it could possibly be a result of the amount of stress you have been experiencing.

3. Trouble Sleeping and Fatigue

Trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep, is a strong indicator of stress. It is essential to our health. When sleep suffers, your entire body suffers. Your body recovers and your brain reboots while you sleep so that you can wake up feeling fully energized. Of course, if your sleep is disrupted or decreased, then your energy suffers too.

You may feel like you don’t have the energy to get everything done, are falling behind in your work, not reaching your goals, and barely able to focus. Stress can keep you from maintaining energy levels for a healthy mental and physical state and can cause you to lose those precious recharging zzz’s.

Now that you know the 3 symptoms that should cause you to pause and take inventory of your stress levels, let’s talk stress hacks! We can’t always control the amount of stress we encounter in life, but we can control the way we react and process the stress. My absolute favorite stress hack is one that can be done in as quickly as 5-minutes but has the power to help you deal with stress in a healthy way.

5-Minute Stress Hack: Brain Dump Journaling

Have you ever typed up a long frustrating email or text to someone only to find that by writing it out, your feelings have calmed down a bit? This activity allows you to take a step back, re-assess the situation, and reconsider your initial reaction. This is an example of how writing things out can help you deal with stress.

There are two great things about journaling: you don’t need a lot of time to make it work and it’s budget-friendly! Even if you only have 5 minutes to spend on it, that’s enough to help reduce your stress levels. All you need is paper and pen.

I do recommend pen, not pencil, because this exercise is not about editing your thoughts as they come out. It’s purely about getting them out in all their unedited and messy glory!

Whatever thoughts are swirling around in your mind, you can help get them out of your mind by writing them down. The act of putting a thought on paper takes it out of your head. This hack helps to clear your head so you can move on with whatever else life has in store for you.

If you’ve never kept a journal before or you’re not sure how best to use it for stress management, no worries! Below are journal prompts to get you started if you “don’t know what to write”.

But the truth is, journaling can be as simple as what I like to call a “brain dump”. This is a method where you just write out whatever is on your mind, like talking candidly to a non-judgmental best friend.

Empowering and Stress-Busting Journaling Prompts

The Attitude of Gratitude: Write about the things you’re grateful for. This can be something big such as family and health, the blessing of waking up this morning, or something smaller like being able to tie your shoes. It gets you into the habit of looking at positives.

Positive Intentions: Set a positive intention for the day. What is the one thing that would make today a great day?

Positive Affirmations: What do you want to be today? Confident? Strong? Adaptable? Write it out as a first-person affirmation. For example, If you want to be all of the above, then I write “I am confident, strong, and adaptable”. Write it many times to solidify the affirmation in your mind.

Remember, you choose how you react to and process stress. If you’re experiencing any, or all, of the above-mentioned symptoms, I hope you’ll give our 5-minute brain dump journaling method a try!