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3 Subtle Signs You’re Stressed and What to Do About It

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stress massage seattleAs working professionals, we’ve mastered the balancing act. We work full-time, have a lively social life, and make time to be active. We move fast and that’s how we like it.
However, in between the happy hours and work meetings, stress can creep in without your knowing. Stress doesn’t always trigger a loud, red siren. Many times, there are quiet signs telling you that you may be stressed.
You don’t need to sacrifice your busy lifestyle to reduce stress, but you should be aware of three important, subtle clues and listen to your body when it’s time to slow down:
1. Changing sleeping patterns: Your subconscious can let you in on important, underlying mental and physical happenings, and you should listen to its messages. Pay attention to your sleeping patterns; trouble falling asleep and weird dreams are all signs that you may be stressed.
What to do: Ask yourself if you are getting six or more hours of sleep each night. If not, identify what is causing you to have trouble sleeping. Are you putting off a certain conversation? Are you up against a strict deadline at work? Addressing stress in your day will make your nights easier. To help you sleep, cut back on caffeine and alcohol, and increase your exercise routine.
2. Tight, aching back or neck: Many of us carry our stress in our necks and backs. High levels of stress can cause discomfort by tightening your muscles and causing muscle spasms. This is part of our natural flight-or-fight response, and is one of the ways our bodies respond to challenges and demands.
What to do: Massage, meditation, and yoga can all relieve tight muscles. Take time to stretch during the day to prevent muscles from knotting up, and do some yoga to unwind at the end of the day. A monthly massage can also drastically improve sore muscles. A 2011 study found that massage helped people in pain feel and function better, compared to people who didn’t receive any massage treatment.
3. A craving for dessert: Anytime you have a sudden change in cravings, you should interpret it as your body telling you something is different or off. A new study claims that stress can turn on certain hormones located in our taste buds, making us crave sweets.
What to do: Be mindful of why you are craving certain foods. Monitor your stress levels and when you feel like you need to have sweets, take a few minutes to breathe and retain focus, or take a brisk walk around the block. If you really do need to satisfy your sweet tooth, choose healthy options like raisins, dried fruit, or a small piece of dark chocolate.
The bottom line: practice self-awareness and listen to what your body is telling you. Maintaining an active, mobile lifestyle will allow you to bounce between social events, succeed at work, and maintain your health.
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