18 Chapter One What Are the Signs? While we all suffer from our its in unique and special ways, their impact on our bodies, attitudes, and outlooks is similar. The fol- lowing are some common signs that your its are overwhelming you and leading you away from your smile and toward burnout. If stress and burnout don’t have much hold on you, you may only experience symptoms occasionally—on those rare days when your it attacks. You probably don’t experience more than a few of them, and they don’t hit you that hard. On the other hand, if your stress and burnout are stronger, multiple symptoms may be a part of your daily life, and those symptoms may be nearly overwhelming. You may even start thinking about driving into a clump of trees. HeadacHes and Muscle Tension It may be a sharp pain in the center of your head, as if someone just jammed a freshly sharpened number two pencil through your left ear into your brain. It may be a numbness that throbs through your whole head, although for the life of you there is no memory of being injected with 60 cc of Novocain. Then again, it may not be your head. It could be your shoulders that ache like they are carrying the weight of the world or a neck so stiff you can’t look both ways before crossing the street or a lower back that won’t bend or knees and feet that burn with pain. Physical discomfort is an early sign of stress for many people. PHysical and eMoTional ailMenTs The physical signs of stress can go deeper than headaches and muscle pain. Over the last few years, I have met many providers and parents stressed to the point of physical and emotional ill- ness. One family child care provider said that after repeated tests failed to diagnose the reason for an ongoing problem, her doctor asked her a simple question, “Are you experiencing any stress in your life?” Since this was the first time she remembered being asked this question, she answered “yes” and then spent half an hour providing details. His diagnosis was quick and simple: “If you don’t deal with it all, it could kill you.” Researchers are con- tinuing to find connections between stress and illness that back