Inability To Shut Off: Stress Awareness Month

Inability to shut off by Bodyshot Performance: woman looking tired but unable to sleep.

Next up in our series about stress awareness is an indicator that you might be travelling towards chronic stress. I’ve already talked about apathy and anhedonia, as well as the physical symptoms. This week, I want to talk about being unable to relax or “shut off”…

The Stress Hormone

Otherwise known as ‘the stress hormone’, cortisol is a steroid produced by the adrenal glands located above each kidney. And it’s responsible for triggering our fight or flight response, which enables us to react to a potentially life-threatening situation. Long periods of stress lead to higher cortisol levels in the body for an increased amount of time. And being on constant high alert like this can lead to a number of physical and mental health issues.

Racing Thoughts

A racing mind refers to rapid and repetitive negative thought patterns that can occur when feeling overwhelmed with emotions such as worry, anger or fear. And this can cause physical reactions – like panic attacks – as well as mental, for example, brain fog. Therefore, during times of extreme stress, we might experience racing thoughts – and difficulty trying to shut them off. This can affect our ability to concentrate, and is often a warning sign of burnout.

Tired And Wired

In part two, we discussed the physical symptoms of stress, including fatigue, though you may also feel tired and wired simultaneously. This is due to the adrenals working overtime in order to maintain vigilance for possible dangers. Consequently, this can cause insomnia, which in turn can affect aspects such as performance and relationships. Feeling tired, wired, and unable to shut off as a result, is also a sign that you might be heading towards burnout.

Slivers Of Recovery

However it manifests, the inability to shut off is a strong indicator of chronic stress. So it’s very important, if you feel this way, to take a step back and schedule in some deliberate rest. You might look at how you can create opportunities for slivers of recovery throughout your day. Look ahead at everything that’s going on, and work out how you can approach it differently – prioritise, delegate, plan ahead – in order to improve your wellbeing. We’ve produced a huge amount of content over the years sharing tips on how to recover, which you can access here.

You can also find out more about burnout, including how to identify it, using our free resource, the 12 Stages of Burnout.

Wellbeing Resources

Burnout among busy professionals is reaching epidemic proportions, resulting in unhappiness, impaired mental health and shortened careers. Leanne’s latest book, Cadence, can help. Inside the pages of this short, easy read, discover how to apply the simple and effective Cadence Approach™ to your life. It’s the secret to beating burnout and performing in life and work.

Many of us frequently sit or stand at a desk for long periods at a time throughout the day. Our posture guide will show you how to set up your workstation, stretches to do to avoid getting tight, uncomfortable muscles, and how to correct your posture to stay relaxed and energised whilst at work.

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