Warning signs you’re overtired and stressed out.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Stress person

Stress.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Stress can be either physical or emotional.

Some stress is more harmful than others. Physical stress wears out the body, but it also makes it harder to regulate your emotions. Emotional stress makes it difficult for you to think and can also interfere with sleep, appetite, and mood, leading to depression and anxiety. One of the early symptoms of job burnout is feeling both physically and emotionally tired and not being able to rest up during your hours away from work or stress. Below is a list of symptoms that may mean you are overtired, stressed out, and headed for long-term physical and emotional problems.

You have stopped feeling pleasure.

Loss of pleasure, particularly the inability to feel pleasure, is one of the warning signs of depression. If things that used to make you happy no longer do, you’re headed for problems. Life is a mixture of the good and bad, but if you’ve reached a point where you no longer can recognize and enjoy the good things when they happen, something is wrong.

If you can’t sleep, stress may be the cause.

The inability to sleep, or poor sleep quality, can be the result of many things, very few of which are good. Sleeping far too much or inability to sleep is a symptom of depression. Lying awake at night unable to fall asleep because your mind is racing and you’re full of anxiety should tell you that something is wrong. It’s possible to be too physically tried to fall asleep. But more often, the cause of an inability to sleep is stress, anxiety, depression, or an even a more severe mental illness.

Stress can cause weird, upsetting dreams.

Today most therapists spend far less time on dream analysis than we did in the past. What a dream means to one person and what it means to someone else may be very different. But if you’ve noticed a change in your dreams, you need to look at what else is going on in your life. If your dreams are upsetting, you start by examining what is going on in your life. Weird upsetting dreams are one sign that your stress levels are just too high.

Tight, aching muscles can be a sign of stress fatigue.

If your muscles are tight, aching, and you haven’t recently put them under physical strain, probably excess stress is the cause. With any physical symptoms, it’s always a good idea to see a doctor and rule out an organic cause. But if your body is complaining, and you can find a physical reason why stress is the likely culprit.

Falling asleep in the daytime is a sign of fatigue.

Sleeping during the daytime suggests you’re not getting enough rest at night. Emotional stress can be just as exhausting as physical activity. If your spending enough time in bed, but still tired during the daytime, stress, and pressure are likely reasons.

Brain fog can be a sign you are overtired.

Being overtired and stressed out can result in cognitive challenges. If you find you are walking around in a fog, having difficulty making decisions, stress is a likely culprit. Like a computer that is unable to take in new input until it processes something, your brain can be so overloaded with stress that it is unable to function efficiently.

Irritability is a symptom of excessive stress.

When a baby doesn’t feel well, they become irritable. They may try to push caregivers away. If you find that you are becoming more irritable, more temperamental, or shorter with those around you, it’s essential to pay attention to how much stress you are under and what is causing it. There are lots of techniques you can use to reduce stress, but you must practice stress reduction before you break. Once your irritability has caused problems in your relationships with others, you may not be able to repair the damage your irritability has caused.

Cravings can be the result of being stressed out.

People who are under a lot of stress often find that there eating changes. Rather than craving healthy foods, you may begin to crave carbohydrates and sugar. People with a history of using drugs and alcohol discovered that constant cravings for drugs and alcohol are often the result of stress. Pay attention to your cravings; they’re trying to tell you something beyond just that you want that food or drug.

Stress causes headaches that won’t go away.

Lots of things can cause headaches, and it’s important to rule those physical causes out. But if you suffer from chronic headaches, and your doctor hasn’t found a physical reason, a likely culprit is stress, particularly stress of the emotional kind.

Digestive upset is a sign of stress.

Pressure and stress can also upset your digestive system. Episodes of both diarrhea and constipation can be the direct result of stress. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself. It’s important to re-examine your life and find out whether your life is that stressful or if some of your reaction to stress is the result of a negative stress mindset.

Being chronically thirsty may be a sign of excess stress.

If you’re experiencing chronic thirst, and it is not caused by either physical dehydration or medical problems such as diabetes, it may be the result of high levels of stress.

If you recognize several of these symptoms of excess stress and they are interfering with your quality of life, now is the time to re-examine your life and reduce your stress. You may want to learn and practice some stress reduction techniques. For the emotional varieties of stress, consider working with a counselor on shifting your stress mindset.

For more on this topic see:     Stress

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

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Why is it so hard to stay quit?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Drugs.

Drugs.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

“Quitting is easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.”

This old joke has been applied to drinking, smoking, and gambling, and has been attributed to Mark Twain, W.C. Fields, and others. It still rings true. While many people try to quit, relatively few stay quit. For most people who use substances, that use has become a habit, and under times of stress, good or bad stress, humans tend to revert to their usual default behaviors. For recovery skills to work, they need to be over practiced until they become automatic.

Three factors are involved in a return to using substances or to behaviors like gambling. We often call this return to old behavior relapse. Triggers are events or feelings which place the idea of using back into your consciousness. Urges are strong desires or impulses. Cravings are those intense feelings driving you towards a return to active use.

Relapses begin with thoughts rather than actions.

You may have heard the saying, “relapse begins in the mind,” which is sometimes referred to as stinking thinking. There has been a tendency recently to blame addiction or alcoholism on the substance. Certain drugs may have more severe withdrawal symptoms than others, but addiction is more complicated than merely getting the drug out of the body. Many people go through detox and then go without the drug for a long enough time. That the drug is no longer in their system, yet they still relapse. Without long-term treatment, most people, who go through detox, eventually returned to using the drug of choice. Sometimes this relapse happens after months or even years of being clean and sober.

Cutting down doesn’t work.

Many people with a drug or alcohol problem try the approach of cutting down. Instead of finishing off a six-pack of beer each night, they try to limit themselves to two or three beers. Trying to control your use rarely works over an extended period. If your drinking or drug use has reached the point where you need to cut down, you’re far down the path to addiction.

Using alcohol and drugs instrumentally, to celebrate, to cope with emotions, is a dangerous path. Very few people stay “cut down” for very long. If you’re drinking or using, even a little, you’re at high risk to end up with a substance use disorder again.

Trying to control your addiction puts the drug in control of you.

Normal people don’t try to control their use of drugs and alcohol. If you are doing something enough that you need to cut down, that activity has become a problem. Loss of control is one of the characteristics of the disease of addiction.

Addicting drugs and behaviors have three characteristics which bring you back.

Over time, as you use substances, you build tolerance, meaning it takes more and more of the substance to produce the same effect, or if you use the same amount you get less and less effects. Where you used to get a buzz on after one or two beers now, you need six.

When an addicting substance leaves the body, you will develop withdrawal symptoms. Even relatively mild substances such as caffeine have withdrawal effects. Go a couple of days without your coffee, and you will probably have headaches and be irritable. Withdrawal symptoms can be either physical or psychological, such as irritability or depression.

When you are deprived of your addicting substance, you’re likely to experience cravings. Giving in to those cravings reinforces addiction. Every time you give in to the cravings, the addiction grows stronger. The challenge in quitting is to go without the substance long enough for the cravings to subside.

If you’ve developed a problem with a substance, consider seeking help. Without help quitting and staying quit is a challenging task.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Four David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon,

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

Psychopharmacology – counselorssoapbox video

Psychopharmacology – counselorssoapbox video

Why do drug effects differ? Tolerance, withdrawal, and cravings. Physical and psychological characteristics of the user all play a role in drug effects.

 

Urge Surfing Prevents Relapses.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Urge Surfing Prevents Relapses.

Urge Surfing Prevents Relapses.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Don’t let urges knock you down.

Urge surfing is an idea that comes from substance use disorder treatment. Learning to cope with urges can help prevent relapses into depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, and many other mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders.

A coworker and I discussed the similarities between surfing on the ocean and surfing urges. He is an avid surfer and tells me that not having a good relationship with the waves can leave scars. Ignoring urges and what is causing them can leave mental and emotional scars.

What is an urge?

Urges are sudden, intense impulses to do something. People with urges often feel compelled to act. When the idea enters the mind, it can become a compulsion. Urges can be intense, unpleasant sensations. Once the urge arises, it is hard to avoid acting on it. Wrestling with urges results in a lot of relapses into unhelpful thinking, and unhealthy behaviors.

Urges rise and fall.

Urges, in the early stages, can come on slowly and gradually, other times they rise rapidly, like a heavy ocean swell. You could easily be swept away before you realize the danger of the urge. The challenge with urges is to maintain your position without being carried away by the urge. Typically urges last 20 to 30 minutes.

Concentrating too much on ocean waves leaves you unprepared when they arrive. You should prepare for the rising and falling urges ahead of time also.

Wrestling urges, wears you out.

The typical response to urges is to try to avoid thinking about them and resist acting. The more you struggle, the more tired you become. Trying to not think about something makes the thought grow. To defeat urges you need to do two things. First, do not give in. Sometimes giving in and sometimes not amounts to intermittent reinforcement, one of the hardest things to overcome. Second, don’t exhaust yourself swimming directly into the urge. Practice floating above the surface, riding out the comings and goings of urges.

Urges can affect your thinking, your feelings, and your behavior.

Surfers who develop a negative attitude don’t last long. If you engage in self-criticism, telling yourself you should have caught the last wave, you need to wait for the next one; you don’t surf, you get washed ashore. Having cravings and urges is a natural part of recovery. Don’t beat yourself up for having urges. Having urges can make you feel like you’re not doing recovery correctly. Don’t let your urges take you places you should not go. Stick to the behaviors that will further your recovery.

Make peace with your urges.

Surfing the urges allows you to reach a place of neutrality where you neither wrestle the urge nor give in to it. What you need to do is to step back from the urge and begin to watch it as an outside observer. From this vantage point, you will see that your urges rise and fall. If you can stay in this relaxed state for a time, the urge recedes.

Accept that it is okay to feel however you are feeling.

You do not have to take action to change your feelings. Your life is a real life. There are things you like about it, and there are things that you will not like. Sometimes you will feel happy, and sometimes sad. Sometimes you will be calm, and sometimes you will be anxious. The key to making peace with your feelings, and not being swept away by urges, is to learn to recognize what you are feeling without rushing to change that feeling.

What feeling is coming up for you?

As you feel the urges rising, work on identifying what that feeling is. Are you feeling anxious, depressed, or frustrated? When urges rise, you may be thinking about others. Are you telling yourself it’s not fair that you must quit drinking or drugging, while others are continuing to do these things?

Learn the signs of oncoming cravings.

A water surfer notices the wave coming. Begins to paddle before the wave reaches them. They are up to speed when the wave reaches them. Notice the onset of uncomfortable feelings when urges are on the rise. Pay attention to increases in unhelpful thoughts. Watch your body for signs of negative emotions, that pain in the neck, the queasy stomach.

Practice urge reduction skills before the urge waves wash over you. Learn grounding techniques, scanning your body for tension, and use other relaxation methods. Breathing is especially important when it comes to keeping your head above water. Positive self-talk, affirmations, and grounding techniques can keep you prepared for the next round of urges.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.