The demands of life can at times be overwhelming, making it nearly impossible to avoid stress. Although brief periods of high stress are a normal part of life, many people endure unhealthy levels of prolonged stress leaving them vulnerable to mood swings, physical symptoms like headaches and stomach discomfort as well as serious disease.
If you have experienced a prolonged period of high stress you may have become habituated to it and therefore consider it normal and even tolerable. In order to avoid becoming accustomed to high levels of stress I recommend that you monitor your stress level on a regular basis. This self-assessment can be done in three steps:
Step 1: Take an honest look at your behaviors.
Examples of behaviors influenced by stress:
Engaged in wasted motion and busywork
Irritability – critical of others
Not pleasant to be around
Agitated by little things
Caffeine and/or alcohol consumption increased
Diminished work quality
Unable to make decisions
Step 2: Identify your physical reactions.
Examples of bodily reactions induced by stress:
Various aches and pains, such as headaches and neck aches
Insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much)
Tense or tight muscles
Step 3: Identify your emotions.
Examples of stress-induced feelings:
Anxious, timid, or fearful
Angry, resentful, dissatisfied, or bitter
Confused, overwhelmed or swamped
Helpless or powerless
Fear of inadequacy or failure
Tense or tight
Depressed, weary, or fed up
Once again, if you usually maintain a moderate to high level of stress you may have grown used to behaving and feeling the way you do and you explain it by saying, “that’s just the way I am.” The truth may be that you are that way because of too much stress and you could experience positive benefits by consciously taking steps to lower it.
To know you are under too much stress and do nothing about it will sabotage your health, your happiness and your success. Do yourself and those around you a favor by regularly monitoring your stress level. When you recognize that it is too high follow through with good self-care in order to bring it back under control. I recommend that you learn more on how to manage your stress by reading my blog titled Three Simple Tips to Help Balance Your Life.
For a more in-depth look at stress, you can purchase the e-book, Stress Management: How to Break Free from a Stressful Lifestyle.
Live, Work and Relate Well!
Dr. Linaman is a psychologist and executive coach providing counseling and professional development services to individuals, couples, work teams and organizations.