How do You Know if You’re at a Breaking Point?
Have you been more stressed or exhausted lately and you’re starting to wonder if you’re at a breaking point? For humans, stress is a part of life. It can be a great motivator to prepare for exams, big events, and other responsibilities. It’s associated with any big life change. So, if you’ve recently been experiencing more stress because of that, don’t try to diagnose yourself yet.
However, you need to realise that preventing an emotional or mental breakdown is much more important (and easier) than finding your way back from one. So, if you’ve been struggling lately and it’s been going on for a while, time to understand what’s happening. Let me give you a few signs that will help see if you might be reaching your breaking point.
Tell tale signs you’re at a breaking point
- Trouble Sleeping
Did you always manage to fall into a deep sleep the minute your head hit the pillow? Unfortunately, lately, you’ve been tossing and turning all night, hardly getting any sleep? Or, the other way around: you fall asleep straight away but can’t wake yourself up in the morning. Moreover, once you do, you’re still exhausted.
If you’ve been experiencing this difficulty in managing a sleeping pattern, it’s a clear sign. A sign, that you’re stressed and anxious (whether you know it or not). It’s affecting your sleep, mood and energy levels. If unattended, this can lead to your breaking point.
- Struggling to Concentrate
Forgetfulness can be a regular instance for some people. Especially when you’re juggling many things at once. However, when you begin to have trouble focusing on the simple things and feel like everyday tasks are too much, don’t ignore it.
Very often, when we have too many responsibilities to worry about, it’s difficult to pay attention to your present. If you ‘zone out’ constantly and get brain fog, it’s a sign you’re slowly reaching your limits. Your body’s telling you it can’t function as it used to and something’s wrong. It could be due to a demanding job or an emotionally exhausting task. Whatever it is, it’s impacting your executive functioning, focus and memory. In turn, damaging your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Emotional breaking point
Speaking of emotional wellbeing, you may have been also experiencing some mood changes. For example, you snap more easily and get frustrated over the smallest things. Or you withdraw completely, nothing having any effect on you. Both instances showcase that you can’t control your emotions. You’re either constantly on edge or have a ‘can’t be bothered approach. If this is not your usual emotional response, take it as a sign you’re getting to a breaking point.
- Breaking Eating Habits
Have you heard the term ’emotional eating’ before? Well, as the sound suggests, some of us tend to ‘eat our emotions’. Meaning, when we’re sad, upset, stressed we eat more, and we reach for comfort foods. Why? Because stress causes our brains to release hormones such as adrenaline. It energises our muscles activating the fight or flight response. It’s a great survival tactic. However, once the adrenaline wears off, another hormone (cortisol) signals our body to restore its lost energy. So, we reach for food. However, we reach for high-sugar and high-fat foods that trick our brains to think we’re feeling better. Sadly, the effect is momentary.
On the other hand, you might be eating less and less. Loss of appetite is also a response to high stress. While others eat their emotions, some can’t even think about food. Going from an extreme to an extreme is a clear sign you’re not handling your anxiety and stress well.
Relationship issues & changes in social life
If you suffer from emotional deregulation, chances are you might have difficulty with personal relationships. And while it’s fairly easy to understand why it’s still hard to accept. So, if you’re emotionally exhausted by stress at work, you may end up picking fights at home over nothing.
Inability to connect with family and friends can only cause you more anxiety and make you want to withdraw. You then find yourself isolating from others, cancelling plans, avoiding calls and not talking to anyone. If you recognise any of these patterns in your life, reach out and ask for help. Don’t stay silent because people around you might think you want some space, unaware of your struggles.
Other signs of a breaking point
Negative Outlook & Disinterest
When the stress and anxiety start getting to you, you may find that everything gets harder. You’re no longer looking forward to future events and stop caring about things you normally would. For example, your appearance. Where you’d spend time picking out, ironing, and getting ready your outfit for work, now you put on whatever’s clean. You used to take pride in your appearance, which now seems pointless.
Speaking of appearance, your self-esteem takes a toll as well. If your mind is occupied with negative thoughts, you start viewing yourself that way too. However, it doesn’t apply to your looks only. You might think you’re hopeless, less confident, more cynical, and weaker. Once you recognise this, don’t leave it unchecked. It could develop into depression. And getting back from depression is a much harder task than preventing it.
Compromised Immune System
Have you noticed that during stressful times you tend to get sick more often? Well, if you have, there’s a clear link between high stress and your immune system. Namely, whenever you’re stressed your immune system’s ability to fight off antigens reduces. Therefore, it’s easier for you to catch an infection. Moreover, chronic inflammation from high levels of stress can lead to many immune system diseases such as Lupus, Arthritis and cardiovascular issues. So, if you’ve been more prone to getting sick and are experiencing stress over a period of time, these two can be related.
Have you spotted any of these signs in yourself and your current lifestyle? Act now and prevent going over the breaking point. Coming back is not an easy task and prevention is key. While it may not be possible to completely eliminate stressors in your life, you can make small changes to better it. Try your best to exercise regularly, eat healthier, get more sleep and talk. Whether it be a friend, a family member, or a professional – don’t isolate yourself.
If one of the stressors in your life turns out to be your work, think about changing your position /employer. You do not need to leave the industry. There are plenty of vacancies right now that you could apply for. And if you’re struggling with finding the right career path or are afraid to change it, consider asking for help on how to do it. Although you need to realise this will take time, you will be making a positive change to your life and wellbeing. And as we all know, health (whether physical, mental or emotional) is priceless.
Moreover, if you decide to get professional help, you’ll learn techniques for managing stress and anxiety. Yes, it’s a long process but there’s no better time to start than now. To prevent going over your emotional and mental breaking point, take action today. Know that you’re not alone in this struggle. Especially during and after the pandemic many more of us have suffered the effects of the ‘new reality’. So, be brave and take care of yourself.
Digital & Social Media Executive