Psychological stress: 5 signals indicate that the stress is too high

Psychological stress? 5 signs that everything is becoming too much
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash, Ethan Sykes

Job, private life, and something is always happening: If you don’t pay attention to not overburdening yourself, you will eventually have more than “just” stress. What you should definitely pay attention to in order to protect yourself and your resources and avoid burnout.

Psychological stress caused by work, private life or health challenges is an everyday phenomenon that everyone experiences. But how you deal with it varies and depends on several factors. It is important to recognize early warning signs of too much psychological stress and thus possibly avoid mental illness, explains psychologist and coach Linda-Marlen Leinweber on the Xing platform.

She uses the image of a barrel that will eventually overflow: “Imagine your organism is a barrel that is filled with water – symbolic of psychological stress. This barrel can withstand a lot, but without suitable mechanisms to drain the water, it threatens to overflow at some point.”

Signals when too much is really too much

It is very important to know your own early warning signals that tell you: “My cup is about to overflow…” and “I need a break!”.

This is the only way we can remain mentally healthy and stable, explains Leinweber. “If we notice this moment too late – because we don’t want to acknowledge it or we simply don’t know ourselves – early warning signals can also lead to mental illnesses.”

These are 5 important signals:

  1. Changes in sleep, such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep and a persistent feeling of exhaustion, no matter how long you have actually slept.

  2. Concentration problems: Forgetfulness and constant distraction from tasks, some to-dos slip through completely.

  3. Irritability: Easier to get irritated, negative thinking and a feeling of being constantly overwhelmed, with “thoughts circling around hypothetical catastrophes”.

  4. Digestive problems: Irregularities such as diarrhea, constipation or changes in eating habits, such as consuming more sugar and fat.

  5. Physical pain: Back, neck or headaches caused by increased stress hormone levels and muscle tension, especially in combination with lack of exercise due to stress, can be a signal.

“The list of possible early warning signals is long and highly individual,” says Leinweber. Because each and every one of us brings a different “barrel” with us – in size and stability. And everyone has to deal with a different amount of “water”.

The solution varies from individual to individual

There is no magic formula for finding a solution: “In some phases of life, it is easier for us to find the right outlet to release our psychological stress, and in other situations we have to search longer,” explains the expert. The most important thing is: “Get a feel for YOUR early warning signals. Get to know yourself. So that you can do everything in your power to stay mentally healthy.”

Short break: not always helpful

A short break is often recommended when the stress is too high. This can be a helpful measure to get out of the constant cycle of stress and exhaustion, explains psychologist Valentin Haas. The nervous system can relax a little. But the break can also be a dangerous illusion, warns the psychological psychotherapist. “These supposed mini-recoveries can actually make the problems worse.” Because they usually only scratch the surface. The real causes of the stress are often much deeper rooted and not so easy to combat.

Valentin Haas emphasizes the prevalence of burnout in society, where performance and productivity are often given priority over personal well-being. According to Valentin Haas, this problem is increasingly affecting young people in particular. “A short break is not enough to cure such conditions. We have to go deeper and seriously address the psychological and emotional roots of these states of exhaustion,” explains Valentin Haas. That is why it is important to pay attention to physical and mental warning signs early on and to take appropriate preventive measures.

Avoid burnout

Taking active care of your own health helps to avoid burnout. Valentin Haas advises:

  • regular breaks,
  • physical activity,
  • balanced diet,
  • enough sleep and
  • to maintain social contacts.

“If you pay conscious attention to your needs and take time for rest and relaxation, you strengthen your mental health and prevent burnout,” he explains.

With burnout prevention, you avoid burning out and endangering your health. Here you can find out how to get stress under control in good time:

Important: If the stress symptoms persist over a longer period of time, it is important to seek professional help.

Note: If you feel psychologically stressed or have depressive thoughts, you can get help from the telephone counseling service: On the telephone number: 0800/1110111 or 0800/1110222. Alternatively, there is a chat service at

Read more on Techzle\.com:

  • Leisure stress can make you sick: How to protect yourself
  • Too much work is not the only cause of burnout
  • Burn-out and bore-out: This is the situation for employees in Germany

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