Stress can be sneaky, you may not even realize you are stressed because you have so much going on. It all seems normal. It can also be in your face, constant and relentless. I will never forget my father in law saying, “parenting is relentless”. It did feel relentless when my kids were growing. Although, looking back, I wish I had the tools I have now.
Stress is part of life and I have realized over the years that it does not have to be overwhelming or exhausting. Stress is a reaction. When there is something occurring in our lives that we do not have the resources to handle, whether physical or emotional––stress rears its ugly little head. Stress happens; it is a physical reaction in our body because we somehow feel inadequate.
Stress can be purely physical, we can run a 5k and put ourselves into stress mode by not training appropriately. We can stress our body by drinking too much alcohol, and we need to rest for two days after. (I stopped drinking regularly when I realized it took me 3 days to fully recover from a few drinks ). Stress is mental and emotional when we allow thoughts about the future and the past to ruin our present moment (what if and if only) and then allow those thoughts to cause anxiety, anger, sadness, resentment, etc. This is the most chronic, this is the stuff that keeps us awake at night and distracted throughout the day.
Emotional and mental stress is no different than the stress of life or death danger. The same chemicals flow throughout your brain, body and bloodstream. However, when it is a physical threat, adrenaline and cortisol flow so that your body will fight, flight or freeze to deal with the threat. For example, think about a close call in the car, what do you feel in your body? When this occurs there is no damage to the body because it is usually less than a 3 minute thing. However, when we are in a constant state of imbalance because of worry, frustration, sadness, the chemicals do not dissipate. They continue to circulate throughout our body and start to affect all our organs.This is chronic stress. Everytime we think, “what if”, get stuck in the past, feel resentful, sad, jealous, angry, compare or blame, our body secretes stress hormones. We then take our body out of homeostasis(if it is ever in it) and the results can be debilitating to our physical health and emotional well being. Let us not forget the aftermath, when we yell, throw something, flee the house, go out and binge drink, etc. We are not behaving like sane, compassionate, caring adults. WE have been hijacked by our own mind.
Research says stress is the underlying cause of 90% of doctors visits. The consequences of stress are anxiety disorders, depression, burnout, digestive issues, heart disease, eating disorders/obesity, inflammation, autoimmune diseases, cancer, etc. We do not want to ignore it any longer because it slowly eats away at your zest for life and relationships.
Stress is a choice.You are the only one who can address this issue. It is personal. It is in your power. You can make change happen.
We can help manage stress by exercising regularly, practicing mindfulness/meditation, creating work/life balance, connecting with nature, eating healthy, hanging out with people who are balanced and bring out the best in us, etc.
Most people need some help on the journey, please do not feel ashamed to seek help from a coach or therapist– those days are over. It takes courage to make change and get out of the cycle of status quo.
Emotionally intelligent and aware humans are really attractive and fun. Do the work!
Musical Inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbN0nX61rIs