• Mayo Clinic Minute

    Mayo Clinic Minute: Signs that stress is becoming toxic

With a new year right around the corner, it might be time to reset when it comes to your mental health.

Stress is a normal physical and psychological response to the everyday demands of life. Small amounts of stress can motivate you to face daily challenges. But when stress becomes too much to manage, it can be unhealthy.

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Everyone experiences stressful times, but can you tell when stress is becoming toxic?

"I think some key signs are when we're not able to do our important life activities, like if we're not able to remember our appointments or work, procrastinating on important things like paying our bills or buying groceries, or attending to our family matters," says Dr. Beth Rush, a Mayo Clinic neuropsychologist.

When stress reaches a point where a person no longer can function in a meaningful way, it might be a sign of something more severe, says Dr. Rush. And you should see a health care provider.

"Something serious may be going on, like anxiety or depression, which needs to be treated and evaluated."

She says stress can be unpredictable, and it's important to take care of yourself.

"Sleep, eat well, make sure you're exercising," says Dr. Rush. "Look for signs of stress in yourself. Manage your emotions. Give yourself a timeout if you need to from activity or stimulation, or interaction."

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