Daily stressors and life transitions have a way of temporarily muting our ability to live life with gusto and joy.
Stresses can result in the following:
- Inability to Relax
- Overwhelming Feelings
- Lack of Support
- Too Many Responsibilities
- Life Transitions
Stress has always been a part of life, and our bodies are designed with the capacity to use stress for survival. In prehistoric days, the fight or flight response triggered the release of adrenaline, which would allow us to have the strength and fortitude to either stay and fight or flee the situation. Adrenaline forced blood away from the stomach to the brain and extremities. This allowed for better decision making and improved use of large muscle groups. Blood sugar increased, giving us more energy to act. After a period of a couple of hours and substantial activity, our bodies would return to their normal state.
These days, a moderate amount of stress has the same effect on our bodies. The difference is that we are so busy that our bodies are on high alert much of the time. Whether it’s good stress, also known as eustress, or bad stress, our bodies are subjected to stress hormones much more often than in prehistoric days. We are also less likely to have time for our bodies to return to a normal balance before experiencing another stressor. Additionally, we are much less likely to find a way to release stress chemicals from our bodies.
We all have a range of stress that is helpful and productive. If our stress level falls below that range, we may not be motivated to act on something that needs our attention. If our stress level rises above that range, we can become immobile and ineffective. Varying levels of stress affect all of us differently. What’s normal for one person may be excessive for someone else. The important thing is to find ways to make stress work for us instead of against us.
First, it is important to know what level of stress works for you. Be mindful of when you are tense and ineffective or too relaxed and unmotivated.
Second, it is important to find a way to release the stress hormones so our bodies can recover. Diet, exercise, and sleep are vital for a healthy resolution to stress.
Finally, if you have significant problems related to stress, or you need assistance in coming up with a plan to manage your stress, seek help. Counseling can help you learn to manage and reduce stress.