How To Tell If Your Stress Levels Are Normal (Plus, 7 Ways To Deal With High Stress)

Photo: Unsplash by Kyle Broad
how to deal with stress level stressed out symptoms of stress

Take this test to find out.

You're always being pulled in a million different directions so it's no wonder you constantly feel stressed out and spread thin. It feels like your to-do list is never-ending and that there's never quite enough time in the day to get it all done — let alone a free minute for you to kick back and recharge after a day of utter craziness. 

If you feel like you're just barely keeping it together, it's time to take a closer look at your stress levels. There's normal, expected levels of stress, and then there's out of control stress levels that start to impede your life and happiness.

At normal levels, stress is healthy and good for you. It can serve as a motivator, keep you on your toes, and even inspire you to get things done. But when your symptoms of stress get overwhelming and start to take over your life, it's time for a change.

The problem is that we live in a chaotic world facing too much stimulus. It's not your fault that you're feeling such high stress — it's a result of our environment and the expectations we all face.

So how can you tell if your stress levels are in the normal range? 

The truth is it's different for each of us and only you can decide how much stress is healthy for you — but this simple test can help you gauge where you stand on the stress spectrum.

Listed below are seven key symptoms of stress. If you experience more than three of these stress symptoms or experience even a single stress symptom for longer than a few days consecutively, it could be a sign that your stress levels are too high and that you need to learn how to deal with stress more effectively.

RELATED: 9 Ways To Deal With Stress (When Your Anxiety Is Totally Out Of Control)

Take this test below and see how many of these symptoms of stress you feel on a regular basis:

1. You often feel agitated and irritable.

You feel tense. Your muscles feel tight. You easily get upset. You cry for no reason at all. You get angry at friends and family for no reason other than they were with you.

2. You have addictions to foods, drinks or other unhealthy habits.

You can not stop yourself from eating junk food, drinking too much coffee or alcohol or turning to other destructive behaviors. All this seems to be the blocking you from moving ahead, and you do it without thinking.

3. You have trouble sleeping.

No matter what time you go to bed, you have a hard time getting to sleep. Maybe it's even gotten to the point that you fear going to bed, since you know you'll be restless and have trouble sleeping through the night.

You may even feel tired, but you tend to "wake up" as soon as you go to bed. The cycle repeats, and it gets harder and harder for you to function each day.

4. You always feel drained and tired.

You feel heavy. No matter how much sleep you have, you are tired. It is hard to motivate yourself to get out of bed and or leave the house, since you constantly feel drained — either physically, mentally or emotionally.

5. You feel depressed and overwhelmed.

You find yourself getting more and more depressed. Everything you try to do feels overwhelming — even things you know will help your situation, like going for a walk outside to get some fresh air. You feel helpless, sad and frustrated.

6. You're constantly moody.

Your emotions are all over the place. One moment you are laughing uncontrollably, and the next you are sobbing for no apparent reason. Then you might get angry at any person who happens to be in the wrong place. You feel out of control.

7. You isolate yourself from others.

Over time your friends and family see less and less of you. It becomes a tremendous effort for you to spend time with any person, no matter how close they are to you because it feels exhausting.

It just seems more comfortable to be alone because you are ashamed of the mess you have become. You don’t want anyone to see you like this.

RELATED: 17 Real-Life Techniques For Dealing With Anxiety Right Now (That Actually Help!)

Not only can these symptoms of stress impede your daily happiness and ability to function regularly, they can also cause real damage to your body and well-being over time. If you exhibit more than three of these symptoms on a regular basis — or experience one or more symptoms for more than a few days at a time — your stress levels aren't normal, and you need to take action.

To start dealing with your stress, here are 7 ways to reduce your stress to more manageable and healthy levels:

1. Pamper yourself.

Take time to care for yourself. What do you enjoy that helps you to relax? Do you like going for a massage? Have you ever had Reiki treatment? Do you enjoy getting a pedicure? Do whatever allows you to celebrate yourself.

If possible, make a point to carve out 20 minutes for yourself a week to help reset your mind and reflect on your week. Take this time to help plan out goals for your week ahead, too.

2. Exercise.

Practice some form of exercise to get your body moving. Try to find activities you enjoy. Do you like walking? Playing tennis? Hiking with your dog?

Not only does being active boost endorphins, it helps get your blood flowing and get you out of your own headspace — which is a two-pronged strategy for reducing stress levels.

3. Eat good food.

Take time to make nutritious, delicious meals that are good for your body. When you're stressed and rushed, it's all too tempting to take the easy road and fill your body with easily accessible junk foods. But your body needs better, more so than ever when you're stressed out.

What are your favorite healthy foods? Cook from scratch and stay away from processed foods. Eat at regular times, and your body will thank you for it.

4. Meditate.

Meditation is a beautiful way to slow your mind down, and there are so many ways to do it. You can find meditation groups in many communities, or you can download an app that supports you in your meditation practice. (I particularly like Insight Timer.)

Gradually increase your length of meditations until you can get to at least 30 minutes. Practicing this regularly helps you find ways to let your mind unwind that can help you handle stress more effectively.

5. Enjoy time with friends and family.

Spending time with people you enjoy is a great way to boost your spirits.  Who are the people in your life that you feel good around? Who are the people who help you to laugh? Who are the people who are good at getting you out of the house?

Even when you’re feeling overloaded, connecting with people you love can help give you the support and motivation you need to move past your stress.

6. Find ways to laugh.

Laughing is a great way to feel better. Laughing with yourself and others can help to put life in perspective. Suddenly things that may have seemed overwhelming are now manageable. You just feel better after some hearty laughing.

7. Identify the parts of your life that aren’t serving you.

It’s so easy to get stuck with what you’re doing. But taking time to step back and look at the bigger picture can help you identify which areas of your life are causing you unnecessary stress.

For example, if your place of work is causing a large part of your stress, first try to negotiate with your boss to see if satisfactory changes can be made. If this is not possible, then it might be a great idea to consider alternatives.

If your to-do list is constantly overwhelming you, take stock of the urgent "must-do's," make a plan for tackling them, and set the other lower-priority tasks aside for later. Or better yet, outsource them!

RELATED: Your Inner Critic Is A Big Jerk Until You Understand It

In addition to the tips above, there is a great tool to help you to find a healthy stress level in your life. It is called the Enneagram.

The Enneagram is a personal development tool that allows you to become aware of your behavior and habits, helping you to reduce the stress in your life by understanding your core personality characteristics. Sign up for my newsletter to receive your free Enneagram test.

As you discover your Enneagram type, you begin to observe yourself in your daily life. You start to notice choices you make without ever thinking — the choices that could be leading to your current levels of stress. You are so used to doing it a particular way you do not realize you have an opportunity to reclaim the sanity in your life.

The Enneagram can help you to find freedom from stress. It shows you a path to more significant health, self-awareness, self-compassion, and freedom to be you. You might like to check out the Enneagram to help you on your healing journey.

To start taking back your life and managing your stress more productively, work with Roland Legge, life and executive coach and founder of REL Consultants, to learn tools you can use in your everyday life. Reach out to Roland to set up your free 30-minute discovery call, and he’ll empower you to start working through your struggles today.