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Are you stressed?

Stress is a reality in every person’s life, and vocal instructors are no exception.

Even though we may find great fulfillment in our work, we aren’t immune to the many stressors that come with our day-to-day experiences as educators, business owners, artists, and individuals.

And if we’re not vigilant, stress can silently creep up and accumulate, gradually manifesting itself in our bodies, minds, relationships, and work.

It’s important to understand that stress is not always a bad thing. Sometimes the right amount of stress can make us more motivated, focused, and productive. 

Stress can also result from positive or desirable developments in our lives, such as life changes or business growth.

But exposure to high levels of stress for long periods of time can take its toll on our well-being, whether the stress is a result of good or bad events.

Left unattended, stress can pose risks to our health that compromise our ability to do our best work and live our best lives.

Because of this, it’s good to know some of the more common red flags of stress. If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, it might be time to take stock and find healthy ways to manage your stress levels.

A Few Common Red Flags of Stress

  1. Irritability, edginess, and mood swings. Do you find yourself becoming more impatient, annoyed, or even confrontational toward others? This is a common sign of stress, and it could be a signal that you need to take a break or lighten your load.
  2. Tardiness, lack of interest in appearance, and reduced productivity. We all have bad teaching moments, calendar mishaps, and bad hair days. But if you find yourself constantly running behind schedule, uninterested in looking professional, and unmotivated to teach your best, it might be time to check your stress levels.
  3. Forgetfulness, indecisiveness, and difficulty concentrating. It’s not unusual to experience these symptoms occasionally, but be aware if you notice that it’s become a new norm. When your brain just doesn’t feel like it’s working well, it’s probably because it needs a good recharge.
  4. Stuttering or stammering, problems communicating, rapid or mumbled speech. Communication makes up a significant portion of what we do as vocal instructors. Noticeable changes to your speech and communication skills could be a tell-tale sign of high levels of stress.
  5. Insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams. One might dismiss the occasional nightmare, but some experts have found that disturbing dreams can be a symptom of an overloaded mind. If you find an increase in disturbing dreams, or if you find that your nightmares have started to compromise your sleep, it might be time to address your stress load.
  6. Increased number of minor accidents. We’ve all had one of those days when things just wouldn’t go our way. But if you find yourself constantly and inexplicably getting into small nicks and scrapes, it might be because your stress levels have taken their toll on your ability to focus and function well.
  7. Constant tiredness, weakness, and fatigue. Fatigue is such a common symptom usually resulting from simple lack of sleep, so it’s easy for many people to dismiss it. But if you find yourself having a hard time getting your energy levels up, it might be time to check if chronic stress might be an underlying cause.

Everyone has a different threshold and response to stress, so the key is to be aware of the signals that your body is trying to send.  

If you’re interested in learning more, visit this page on the American Institute of Stress site to learn about other common symptoms of stress.

If you’re concerned about your stress levels and feel the need to seek help, it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor or mental health professional.

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Renée Maranan is a vocal instructor, singer/songwriter, and the creator of the Monday Motivation content at The Balanced Singer. Renée has over 17 years of experience as a vocal instructor and is a certified Mentor-level instructor and Ambassador with the Institute for Vocal Advancement (IVA), and she is also a full member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS).

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