SIGNS OF STRESS

September 30th, 2015

#1

  • Have you ever prepared for an important discussion, but forgot everything you wanted to say or worse, said things you really shouldn’t have said?
  • Do you ever wonder why you are so tired? Do you feel like a failure as everybody else seems to be able to cope with the situation you’re in, except for you?
  • Do you feel like your body is complaining and you have visited every possible expert but the symptoms don't seem to go away?
  • Have you ever felt like the amount of responsibility you’re facing at work is literally choking you?
  • Do you ever feel like your ‘to do’ list only gets longer and you are overwhelmed by everything you still need to do?
  • Have you ever felt like juggling work and kids is a full-time job you can’t seem to get right?

 

Of course you have. We all have. These are all signs of stress which are becoming increasingly common. You just have to deal with it and keep going, right?

The truth is, this is not normal or healthy and we don’t have to live feeling exhausted constantly. The issue is, we don’t know how stress works. We don’t know how the brain works or how it influences the body.

We all know we like to be recognised and valued for who we are and the work we do. Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen in daily life.

Let’s start with what causes stress. Obviously this is different for every person but in general it is safe to say there are a few stressors that have a negative impact on our bodies and minds. Working long hours, not getting enough sleep or exercise and not eating enough or healthily, all have a negative physical impact. Also living in a loud city, not getting enough fresh air or the inability to walk around in nature can cause stress. Mental stressors are maybe less obvious but just as profound. We all know we like to be recognised and valued for who we are and the work we do. Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen in daily life. Instead, we strive even more to be perfect and worry about the past and the future. The difference between us humans and any other species on this planet is that our thoughts alone can cause stress! Thinking about stressful events, what we still have to do, the fight with our neighbour or a sick child causes stress! It causes us to feel bad, but why?

Stress

Working long hours, not getting enough sleep, not eating enough or healthily, living in a loud city, ...

It is very important that we become aware of our thoughts, aware of how we feel and how we react to things.

The answer is that it is simply how we were built thousands and thousands of years ago. When we experience something that could harm us in any way our body switches to “survival mode” also called, the fight or flight mode. This activates certain hormones in the body like adrenaline and cortisol, the latter also known as the “stress hormone”. This also happens to animals, for example, because of the fight or flight mode the impala will run as fast as it can to escape the lion. However, ten minutes later, it will be grazing again. As it is grazing it relaxes its muscles and in this way sends out a signal to the brain to unblock the fight or flight mode. The difference with us humans is, by just thinking about something stressful we already trigger the fight or flight mode! So by worrying about our kids or our future we can already experience stress and invite the stress hormones to enter our body. The whole set of events that follow without us consciously realising it, causes us to feel down, depressed or even to get ill. Therefore, it is very important that we become aware of our thoughts, aware of how we feel and how we react to things. In that way we can start making a conscious decision to choose different thoughts, paradigms and actions.

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