It’s a kind of vicious cycle: We build up stress from our jobs and relationships and then take that stress to bed with us, where it ruins our night’s sleep. The next day, it starts all over again without the causes of the stress or the stress itself being fixed or at least abated.
Stress, of course, is natural to life. In the right dose, it can spur us on to higher achievement for both professional and personal reasons. But when stress builds up and makes us a victim (courtesy of ourselves), then that can be a double-edged sword that not only makes our daytimes more challenging, but also ruins our nighttime sleep.
What to do?
First, you need to identify the causes of your stress, whether they be physical (pain, illness), work-related (overburdened, under-appreciated), or relationship-based (you don’t feel understood, for instance). Stress can come from many factors, but identifying them is the inaugural challenge.
Second, you need to work on alleviating these stress sources and factors. Make out an action plan if that’s what it takes. Make resolutions to do things differently, and seek out your social circle of family, friends and business acquaintances for their help. Sometimes, just having people listen to our problems and commiserate with us can go a long ways toward helping matters resolve themselves.
Third, start exercising if you aren’t already. Exercise has the remarkable power to relax us — or tax us — enough that we can get both a better perspective and a better handle on our emotions and thought processes.
Fourth, eat right. An imbalanced diet that is rich in junk food and sweets, or even one dependent on caffeine and energy drinks to keep us going, can only exacerbate whatever emotional or mental state we’re fighting.
Fifth and finally for work, if you are overburdened, talk to your boss or supervisor about spreading the work around more, or extending deadlines if possible. Most managers will understand since it’s infinitely better to keep a valued employee on board and satisfied than it is to try to find replacement parts from the outside.
Stress can come from bad sleep, and stress can cause bad sleep. That’s why the first step is always pinpointing the sources of your stress. If the main source is fatigue and lack of focus in the daytime, it may be that you have a sleep disorder and you need to see a sleep professional. The main thing is not to settle for the status quo if stress is plaguing you physically, mentally and/or emotionally.