Knowing When (and how) To Ask For Help

If you find yourself feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or burnt-out these days,  you are far from alone.    In fact, according to recent data, in the U.S. the number of adults suffering from stress, depression, and anxiety has tripled since this time last year.  Sites like and have new content specifically designed to provide resources and advice about stress management coping strategies. And it’s not just us adults who are affected, our kids are feeling it too. 

Stress and stress-related issues can show up suddenly or more likely, creep up on us over time until we reach our breaking point.   Let’s help you do a check-up from the neck-up and help you determine when you should stop being stoic about this and ask for and get the help you deserve.

What are some of the telltale signs of stress?

For starters, stress and stress-related syndromes can show up emotionally, physically, or both. Here are some of the signs to be on the lookout for within yourself, those that are close to you, and of course, your children.

Emotional Fallout

  • Overwhelm: If you find yourself procrastinating more than usual, perpetually feeling like a deer caught in the headlights when you look at your to-do list – and just feeling like you can’t bear one more thing on your plate, that is classic overwhelm.
  • Irritability: You didn’t mean to be short with your family or your co-workers, but everything is getting on your nerves and you find yourself grumpy and bothered by just about everything and everyone.
  • Fatigue: This shows up as an overwhelming sense of exhaustion, malaise, and an overall chronic lack of energy even despite a good night’s sleep.
  • Anxiety: You may find yourself worrying about specific things like your own health, the health of your loved ones, facing an uncertain future, wondering if your job is secure, etc., or you may just feel like you have adrenaline coursing through your veins and feeling uncomfortable emotionally and physically.
  • Depression: You may find yourself with a low-level depression which feels like malaise and a chronic sense of the blues, or you may be experiencing more serious signs of depression and even grief which can leave you crying, or (feeling like crying), a loss of appetite, inability to sleep, excessive sleeping or both.

Physical Fallout

  • Insomnia or Changes in Sleep Patterns: While this is often tied to depression, stress and anxiety can profoundly disturb your sleep.  Perhaps you have trouble falling asleep?  Or fall asleep but can’t stay asleep?  Or maybe sleep is outright elusive these days.  And then again, you may find that no matter how much you sleep, you crave more!
  • Change in Appetite: Whether you find yourself with your head in the fridge every 10 minutes, loading up on comfort and junk foods, or pushing your plate away these days because you just don’t feel hungry, a noticeable change in your appetite can be a signal that you are struggling.
  • Muscle Tension and Aches: There are many things that can bring about tension and pain in your body, but stress, anxiety, and depression are all known culprits that can show up as muscle pain, neck and shoulder tension, tension headaches, backaches and overall sense of achiness.

How do I know when I need to ask for help?

This is a great question and one that you and you alone can answer.  The first step to feeling better is to first recognize what is wrong.  You can step up your efforts to practice self-care and adopt coping strategies (check out our recent post How To Cope In Uncertain Times).   But the tricky thing is sometimes when you are feeling depleted or struggling with any of the symptoms above, while you know that you should be exercising more, that you should stop “doom-scrolling” – eating better, etc., you just can’t.

And that is where help comes into play.  There is never – ever- any shame in raising the white flag and seeking help from a loved one, someone you trust or a professional, to help get you back on track.

Who should I call?

Whether it’s leaning on your partner, family member, friend, or healthcare professional, this is a reminder that you don’t have to go it alone.  None of us should!

Below, is a list of resources pulled from the CDC’s Website:

Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row. Free and confidential resources can also help you or a loved one connect with a skilled, trained counselor in your area.

Get immediate help in a crisis

Find a health care provider or treatment for substance use disorder and mental health

And remember, you can call on behalf of yourself, a loved one, or your child.

Take care and remember, we are all in this together and we’ll make it through.




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