10 Signs Of Stress Overload

Posted on July 21, 2014 by

10 Signs of Stress OverloadIf you are like most people you may experience times of extreme stress in your life.  In today’s hectic, fast-paced society we are often dealing with competing demands on our time and energy that make us feel stressed out.  On top of that there are many things that cause added tress to our lives such as financial, health, relationship, employment, family and life-transition stress.

Stress can be deadly!  Therefore, it is extremely important to recognize the stressors in our lives and to find ways to decrease them as well as to lower our stress response.

Use this checklist of 10 signs that you are in danger of stress overload to become more aware of how stress may be affecting you.  Read it over and check off those questions to which your answer is “yes”.  If you answer “yes” to more than a couple of them then you are in danger of stress overload and should consider options for making healthy changes right away.  Read 5 Ways To Stop Feeling Stressed Out for some great ideas on how to manage stress.  Or take this more in-depth teletraining Transforming Stress.

  1. Are you having more trouble concentrating and getting things done than usual?
    • Are you noticing that you keep losing your place in whatever you are doing?
    • Is your mind just not working as quickly as it normally does?
    • Does it feel like you just can’t stay focused on what you need to do?
    • Is it taking longer than usual to get things done?
  2. Are you more forgetful than usual?
    • Does your brain feel fogged in, sluggish?
    • Are you having trouble remembering what you just did or recalling things that are usually easy to remember?
    • Are you forgetting to do things or forgetting where you put things?
  3. Do you put a lot of pressure on yourself?
    • Do you feel like you are constantly under the gun to get things done?
    • man staring at a clockDo you aim for perfection but never feel like you achieve it?
    • Do you take on too much?
    • Do you have trouble saying “no”?
    • Do you keep ending up with more to do that you can get done in the time allotted?
    • Do you often feel overwhelmed?
    • Do you carry a lot of tension in your neck, shoulder, or back muscles?
    • Does your stomach hurt?
  4. Is your mood negatively affected by what goes on during the day? 
    • Do you feel irritable?
    • Is your frustration tolerance lower than usual?
    • Do you get anxious about all the things that are stressing you out?
    • Do you feel down, sad, or depressed and find yourself thinking lots of anxious or negative thoughts?
  5. Do you feel like you are always running behind schedule?
    • Does it feel like there is way too much to do for you to get it all done on time?
    • Are you chronically late because things always take longer than you think they will?
    • Man overwhelmed by bills, papersDoes being late make you anxious and stressed?
    • Do you find yourself walking or driving really fast to get everywhere more quickly?
    • Are you having trouble getting things done according to your schedule?
  6. Are your thoughts racing, negative, or anxious?
    • What’s going on inside your mind?
    • Are your thoughts busy, racing, or hard to control?
    • Do you have trouble keeping your mind on the task at hand?
    • Are you predicting the worst outcome?
    • Are you constantly worrying, planning, and thinking about what went wrong, or struggling to remember everything you have to do?
  7. Do you find yourself snapping at your loved ones?
    • Is your fuse shorter than usual?
    • Do you become easily irritated and use a short, terse, grumpy tone of voice when responding to your partner or your kids?
    • Do you later realize that what they did didn’t deserve your angry response?
    • Do you feel guilty about the way you have been treating your family?
  8. Do you dread going to work or going home?
    • Are you wishing you could avoid the stressful things in your life such as work or your home life?
    • Do you feel totally exhausted even thinking about the stress in your life?
    • Do you avoid thinking about the stressor rather than addressing it?
    • Do you feel helpless, trapped, out of control?
    • Do you find yourself doing anything else rather than confront the stressor?
    • Are you using drugs or alcohol to escape?
  9. Are there nights when your mind is too busy to sleep?
    • Do you lie awake while your busy mind reviews all the things you have on your list?
    • Does your mind race when you get into bed?
    • Do you feel anxious when you lie in bed?
    • Do you avoid going to bed because you know your mind will be so busy worrying?
    • Do you have trouble relaxating your muscle tension?
  10.  Do you have a stress related illness?  Did you know that 75-90% of all visits to primary care doctors are due to stress related illness?
    • Do you have lots of muscle tension in your neck, shoulders, back?iStock_000018967934Large Woman Muscle Tension
    • Do you never seem to feel really well even when no diagnosis has been made?
    • Do you often have a headache?
    • Is your stomach and GI track off balance?
    • Are you experiencing a health issue that might be caused by or exacerbated by stress?
    • Do you feel better when your stress level is lower and worse when it’s high?
    • Have you discounted your doctor’s statement that stress might be a factor in your illness?
    • Do you have high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity?

If you answered yes to more than a couple of these questions then it’s time to find some options for decreasing the stressors in your life and for effectively lowering your stress response.  Remember, it’s not the stressor that’s deadly.  It’s your response to stress that kills.

If you are ready to make some changes to address the stress in your life and to learn exactly how to lower your stress response then take some action right now.  Don’t put it off. Your life may depend on it.   Here’s a great option to guide you through the process -> Transforming Stress Teletraining.

Practicing mindfulness can also lower your stress response.  Listen to the relaxing meditations on the  Mindfulness Toolkit CD/mp3 for a quick, easy way to get started.

Debra Burdick, LCSW, also known as ‘The Brain Lady’, is an international expert on ADHD and Mindfulness. She is an award-winning, #1 best-selling author of: Mindfulness Skills Workbook, Mindfulness Skills for Kids and Teens, ADHD: Non-Medication Treatments and Skills for Children and Teens, Mindfulness for Teens with ADHD, Mindfulness for Kids with ADHD, Mindfulness Skills for Kids Card Deck, and Radical Self-Care When You Are Ill Card Deck. She is an international speaker and retired psychotherapist and neurotherapist, who has been helping all ages thrive for over 30 years.

I would love to hear your personal experiences with this topic.


  1. my brain feels overload, can’t sleep and depressed.

    Comment by alade on at

  2. Sorry to hear you can’t sleep and feel depressed. Often, when we are depressed, we have trouble sleeping. And when we can’t sleep we can feel depressed. Here’s an article about how to distress. https://thebrainlady.com/articles/5-ways-to-stop-feeling-stressed-out/ If we can calm down our busy brains, then we can sleep better. If you feel this way a lot, it can help to see a therapist who can help you sort it all out. I hope you feel better soon. Warmly, Deb

    Comment by Debra Burdick on at

  3. did the questions and I answered yes to 6 of the questions and had sometimes to 3 of the other 4 questions.

    answered a lot of things I was thinking,

    Comment by wozza on at

  4. Stress can impact so much in our life and out health. It is good to be aware of how it impacts us. Then we can learn to lower our stressors when possible and lower our stress response. Here are some resources to help with that. Mindfulness Skills.
    Warmly, Deb

    Comment by Debra Burdick on at

  5. I am an only parent of a 6 yr old boy living with my parents sharing a room with son. No personal soace, no alinetime, and work a ton. Finished masters degreelast month and havestudentloansto be paid soon. Found out mother who had strokenin July can no longer work. Now I will be financially responsible for Half of all bills. I am an accountant and very overloaded with work. I have answered yes to almost all the questions I can’t breath right due to pressure in chest inhavenontime ornmoney to destress and no health insurance. Just waiting for heart attack to happen.

    Comment by Melissa S on at

  6. Hi Melissa,
    My heart goes out to you as you struggle to meet all the responsibilities and stressors in your life. You definitely have a lot on your plate! Take your physical symptoms seriously and get medical attention if you are having pressure in your chest!
    Although there is no quick fix, there are many small things you can do to shift your stress level in your body and mind. It’s not the stress that kills, its our response to it. So, first, stop waiting for the heart attack and start waiting for yourself to feel calmer and more relaxed. Every time you imagine the heart attack, change the channel in your mind to something that feels good to you.
    There are many resources on my website that can help you lower your stress response. I created a training on how to transform stress that may give you some skills/ideas/options to deal with everything. Here’s the training. https://thebrainlady.com/transformingstress/ Here’s a coupon code I created today, just for you, for 50% off. FIFTY Use it at checkout on ETSY.
    It doesn’t have to take time to destress. Please take a moment to stop and take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale twice as long through your mouth like you are blowing a huge bubble. Do it again, 3 times. Notice how you feel after doing so. Do this when you are feeling overloaded, when you are driving, when you eat, when you are walking. Doing so will reset your stress response little by little.
    Break things down into small pieces. With a Master’s degree, can you find employment that offers health insurance? Perhaps find a financial advisor who can help you set up a budget/plan to pay off your loans and perhaps find a way to get some of them forgiven. Can you ask for help? Can you say “no” when your plate is full?
    Make a list of your stressors and a list of whatever things, no matter how small, you can change that will lower your burden.
    I hope this helps, Melissa.
    Wishing you joy and contentment.

    Comment by Debra Burdick on at

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