When people talk about ‘bad’ stress what they’re referring to is chronic stress – a prolonged experience of stress.
Chronic stress is caused by the build-up of stress hormones in the body, particularly cortisol.
The way our inbuilt, automatic STRESS Process is designed to work is that once a particular threat has passed, we take time to rest and recover, so our body is ready to respond to the next threat when it occurs. During rest and recovery periods our body rebalances itself and any unused stress hormones are re-absorbed.
Our days can be filled with perceived threats, such as long work-commute times, the high cost of living, meetings that overrun, conflicts with work colleagues, a lack of time for social interactions, sick child. Each of these threats activates the stress response, pumping stress hormones into our system. In the absence of sufficient rest and recovery time, the level of stress hormones progressively builds.
Unfortunately for too many people, chronic stress has become their normal state of being, and they’ve forgotten what a calm, peaceful state feels like.
A large body of research tells us that chronic stress poses a serious risk to our health. Long term exposure to cortisol wreaks havoc on our cardiovascular system and suppresses our immune system. A degraded immune system exposes us to increased likelihood of physical and mental illness and disease.
Are you experiencing chronic stress?
Chronic stress can creep up on you, going unnoticed, as you become used to the constant feeling of stress. Some people have learned to ignore the warning signs so don’t know they’re experiencing stress. They walk around with tension, muscle pain, or other physical symptoms. The first sign they’re experiencing chronic stress is often a high blood pressure reading, illness, or the onset of physical ailments.
Our goal must be to avoid chronic stress but how do we do that?
The first step is to discover just how stressed you are. The stress test I encourage my clients to take is the scientifically developed HeartMath Personal Well-Being Survey. It’s free and gives you a comprehensive snap shot of your current level of well-being across four dimensions (stress management, adaptability, resilience and emotional vitality).
Next you need to get a clear understanding of how you experience stress, (we all experience stress differently). Being more mindful of the stress signals your body sends (muscle tension, feeling jumpy or edgy, and so on) can help you intervene more rapidly and effectively. You can learn about the common symptoms of stress here.
Then you should check how well you’re meeting your physical and emotional needs. One way to do this is by completing a simple Emotional Needs self-assessment. Our mind/body interprets any unmet physical and emotional need as a threat. Once you know which needs aren’t being met you can take steps to meet them.
Don’t forget about your physical needs – particularly the three pillars of well-being – nutrition, sleep and movement. Eat well, sleep well and get moving to help burn off accumulated stress hormones.
And it’s really important to schedule rest and recovery time. A great way to do this is to get out into nature.
Recovering from chronic stress can be difficult and it helps to have a good support network. Some people find that it’s beneficial to work with a stress management coach who can provide support and help them develop strategies and learn skills to manage their stress more effectively.
Helping people to regain control over their stress and anxiety is my passion. If you'd like to explore how I can help you manage your stress, contact me today on 021 056 8389 or email me at email@example.com or use the Book Now button below.
Wishing you a calm and peaceful week.
REMEMBER - "When you change your mind you change your life."
Tony helps individuals to harness the power of their mind to achieve success and well-being in life, work and business. Tony's particular area of expertise lies in helping people to 'change their minds' so they gain freedom from worry, anxiety and stress, overcome limiting beliefs and unhelpful habits. Tony’s solution focused approach to coaching uses a range of techniques drawn from the fields of solution focused coaching, neuroscience, positive psychology and clinical hypnosis.