Time to Take a Break: 4 Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

Many people experience increased anxiety and stress for prolonged periods, to which their bodies might respond in unnoticed ways.

In this respect, experts pointed out that the public must pay attention to important signs our bodies manifest when they are exhausted. According to Time Magazine, there are 4 signs they should not ignore.

Emotional Changes

People may experience a change in their emotional behavior if they haven’t taken a break when they need. They may feel more depressed than usual and experience increased anxiety. Dr. Gerda Maissel, a physician in New York’s Hudson Valley, said: “Your mood can absolutely be affected.”

She explained that thoughts might start “circling,” or spin in a repetitive loop. “You’ll likely feel like you can’t remember things, or you can’t find the name for something,” she added.

At the same time, stress can prevent people from enjoying the activities they love. Sometimes, they can’t engage in basic self-care like exercise or eating well. According to Maissel, people with chronic stress might also feel overwhelmed, lose their ability to cope well with big and small issues, and can’t make simple decisions.

Strained Relationships

People might notice they experience stress in their relations with other people. In this regard, Jennifer King, an assistant professor of applied social sciences and assistant director of the Center on Trauma and Adversity at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said: “You might notice you’re feeling a little more irritable or cranky.”

Dr. King pointed out that if a person feels they want to isolate a little more, it can be a result of stress.

Weakened Immunity

According to Ashley Fields, a therapist in Indianapolis who specializes in women’s issues and perinatal mental health, stress can have implications on all the body’s systems. Research shows it can weaken the immune system, making people prone to getting sick more frequently.

Fields said: “I have grad students I teach who often tell me that right after they graduate, they get a cold or some type of sickness. It’s almost like their bodies finally stop running at high alert with classes and work and internships, and need to heal.”

Body Aches

Stress can cause problems with the digestive system, including an upset stomach, constipation, or indigestion. Moreover, it can affect the appetite, making the person gain or lose weight. Fields added that stress often causes muscle tension, which triggers headaches and causes jaw, back and shoulder pain.

She said: “We don’t always realize how much tension we’re holding in our bodies until we make it a point to intentionally observe what we’re feeling, and where.”

Lack of rest and relaxation might affect sleep as well, making people feel more tired than usual or exhausted when they wake up.

Cost of Ignoring Signs

When we make our lives revolve around our daily obligations, our body starts “begging us, oftentimes, to slow down,” according to Dr. Christopher Thompson, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. However, ignoring these signs leads to “a lot of our modern health problems.”

Dr. Thompson explained that our bodies enter a “fight-or-flight mode.” Our adrenal glands release cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol makes body’s tissues release glucose into the blood. Meanwhile, insulin production decreases and blood vessels tighten.

When we experience this for prolonged periods without relief, “we don’t recover from those cortisol spikes.” Therefore, it becomes the norm, and “it’s clearly hurting our health,” said Thompson.

According to research, chronic stress is associated with several health problems. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and arthritis. It can also lead to weight gain, because cortisol increases blood sugar and affect insulin level. Furthermore, it can break down muscle tissue and lower metabolism.

Thompson said: “It makes sense that chronically elevated cortisol levels are causing a lot of problems, including obesity, increased weight, hypertension, insulin resistance, and diabetes.”

Break Time

Experts recommend taking a break for just a few minutes a day. Fields said: “Shut your phone off for 5 minutes, draw in an adult coloring book, or call someone you love.” She also advised people to do a quick breathing exercise. “Breathe in for three to five counts, and then exhale for the same number,” she said.

Maissel prefers to take short breaks throughout the day, which involve movement, such as climbing the stairs daily.

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