The first clues about being stressed are physical signs, such as tiredness, headaches or an upset stomach, according to one mental health clinic.
Juggling everything in life can leave you feeling stressed out and on the verge of burnout.
But how do you know if you’re at risk? This Mental Health Awareness month, experts are warning of the dangers stress can pose, and how to combat it.
A burnout can include both physical and mental exhaustion, which can result in a complete loss of enthusiasm for everything, experts warn. The most common cause of a burnout is stress.
While it’s not a psychiatric diagnosis, stress is closely linked to your mental health in two important ways, according to mental health charity Mind.
It can cause mental health problems, and mental health problems can cause you stress.
“You might find that your first clues about being stressed are physical signs, such as tiredness, headaches or an upset stomach,” according to Stephen Buckley, head of information at Mind.
“There could be many reasons for this, as when we feel stressed we often find it hard to sleep or eat well, and poor diet and lack of sleep can both affect our physical health.
“This in turn can make us feel more stressed emotionally.
“Unmanageable stress affects us all in different ways, but there are signs to look out for: feeling irritated, finding it hard to sleep or struggling to concentrate.
“You may feel really upset and emotional, or feel like crying. Severe stress can affect your blood pressure too.”
Here are the five warning signs that mean you could be on the verge of a burnout…
1. Feeling exhausted
One of the earliest signs you are on the verge of a burnout is fatigue.
Feeling tired is basically your body’s way of telling you that you need to slow down.
You fast-paced lifestyle coupled with a lack of sleep (because you are trying to fit everything in) puts extra strain on your body.
You may start to feel less energetic and over time may feel constantly weak.
Stress may also make it harder to sleep, so if you start experiencing fatigue take some time out from your busy life and do something to help manage your stress.
2. Constant worry
If you start to constantly feel anxious, worried or depressed it is a clear warning sign something is going wrong.
Looking after your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so don’t take this warning lightly.
A burnout will start off as a feeling of tension and worry but can later develop into anxiety and depression, which can be much harder to manage.
Constantly feeling down and stressed could also trigger mood swings, according to Medical Daily.
This may come in the form of anger, irritability, tension and sadness and can also be directed at colleagues, friends, family and loved ones.
The constant fatigue and worry will start to have an effect on your mind too.
3. Forgetfulness or memory loss is a sign you are working too hard to keep your body going.
It is not uncommon for people suffering intense psychological pressure to experience memory problems, a lack of concentration or a loss of focus.
If you can feel yourself heading down that path it is vital that you take steps to ease your stress.
Trying mindfulness techniques can help some people combat stress, so can a healthy diet with plenty of rest and exercise.
4. Chest pains and headaches
A burnout doesn’t just affect your mental health, you will suffer some physical side effects too.
Stress and anxiety can cause chest pains, headaches, nausea, heart palpitations, shortness of breath and even fainting.
On top of that you are likely to be more susceptible to bugs and viruses because your immune system will be weakened from the lack of sleep and a poor diet.
So, again, make sure you are eating well, getting enough sleep and finding time to wind down every day.
As discussed above, a burnout can cause anxiety, depression and mood swings in the early stages.
But later on it can become much worse and end up with you becoming completely withdrawn socially.
You may also feel detached from the things that matter to you, like your friends, family and job.
This can also lead to isolation and more severe feelings of depression, so it is very important that you take steps to manage those feelings.
It’s worth speaking to your GP about ways to manage your stress and the counselling services that may be available to you.