You have heard there are two types of stress: good and not-so-good. Good stress is when you work hard to meet a deliverable and dig deep in your reserves to complete it. The intensity of the push could cause stress, yet your mind releases a lot of that tension when you finish completing the project. Good stress can motivate us to perform and deliver better results, yet it still impacts the body, and that pressure needs to be released.
It is the chronic stress which hinders our well-being. Long-term stress impacts the body’s major organs and takes a toll on us. Sometimes the toll is permanent because the body starts breaking down from the stress.
Where do your stress levels sit – good or long-term stress that needs your attention?
Where Stress Comes From
Stress finds all those crevices in our lives where we are unsure what to do, how to handle the people in our lives, our negative thoughts, and numerous other areas that surface to pick away at our well-being.
Stress comes from our beliefs, which create our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and results. So, let’s delve more into how we get to where we are in life. It is essential to stop long enough to view your thoughts as they highlight your beliefs, which can impact how you deal with stress in your life. Where does stress start?
“You can’t always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside.” Wayne Dyer
If you change your thought from “I can’t find any solutions” to “There are always different solutions to an issue,” you may reframe how you view a situation. Take time to brainstorm ideas around solutions, even silly ones and outrageous thoughts, as they all loosen up the brain and allow potential solutions to evolve. Reframing your thoughts from “I can’t” to “How can I make this happen.”
Inner Critic – Causes lots of stress.
Most of us have an inner critic. You know, the one judging what you do, how you do it, what you are not doing, and thinking other people are judging you.
Symptoms of Stress
There are many ways stress shows up in individuals. It is impossible not to have some stress in your life, though what is important is how you deal with it. Are you aware of how your body or emotions react to stress? Do you know what makes you stressed? Do you have any tools to reduce or eliminate stress around a situation?
Becoming aware of what makes you stressed and how you deal with it will maximize your ability to find solutions to the issues that you have to handle and add more peace and care to your life.
Family, community, individual, and national issues cause us stress.
Chronic Family Stress
Families are not perfect environments; living together with others can cause chronic physical or emotional stress. When you grow up in a family with a high-stress level, it isn’t easy to recognize or know how to diminish the impact on our minds and bodies.
Today both parents usually work, have children, and juggle family and work time. As the children get older, they are involved in more activities, which the family has to include in organizing. If a family has anyone with special needs, more energy is required to add this to the mix. Then add to the mixture are different personalities, personal needs, and development issues of children, and it’s good to acknowledge the stress levels and work toward solutions to reduce the tension. Families that learn to express themselves and think about solutions reduce the overall stress environment.
Step back and evaluate your own as well as other family members. What are their stress levels, and what signs are they eliciting that indicate they are under too much stress:
Illness – short-term or chronic illness impacts your well-being. Though relaxing can be more challenging, there are still tools to help you release some of the tension.
Regardless of the cause of a physical symptom, always check with a doctor to ensure there is no physical organic issue. Yes, stress may exacerbate your physical well-being, though do not chalk it up just as stress. Discuss with a medical professional what is happening to your body and partner with them to help solve the symptom and any underlying causes for the symptom.
- Stomach issues – a classic symptom when we are anxious or stressed about something. Your gut is telling you something is not correct.
- Low energy – feeling tired most of the time could be a symptom of being overwhelmed and unmotivated to do anything.
- Aches, pains, headaches – your body is throwing everything out at you, and it is time to step back and evaluate what it is saying to you.
- Infections – stress lowers your immune system, so you cannot effectively fight germs and bacteria.
Most medical professionals recommend not to ignore body signals that something is wrong. If it is only stress, gather suggestions from professionals, family, and friends on handling it best. Alternatively, you can take care of it by choosing a relaxation technique and doing it as often as possible.
- Emotional issues – here, the list is extensive as many people struggle with depression, anxiety, or low self-confidence. The feelings may surface because of a life change or dealing with thoughts that deplete energy or create anxiety around what can happen.
- Overwhelmed – life can throw us a bundle of issues all at once and can cause us to feel anxious, tired, and overwhelmed.
- Teary eye – if you find yourself crying more than usual and cannot stop crying, your body tells you there is an emotional issue in your mind. Continuous crying could be an indication of depression or other mood disorders. Sometimes we cry because we are so overwhelmed; we release our tension through tears. If this is the case, again, reach out for support. Don’t try to do everything alone.
- Depression or anxiety are signs an individual struggles with personal issues that indicate support is required to help deal with the problem. It could be because of internal issues in the family, the individual’s private thoughts, or external issues that are impacting their well-being, though always good to reach out for help in increasing your well-being.
- Loss of a job – not only are there financial concerns, but people also feel displaced not having a work home and can feel isolated and overwhelmed in finding a new position. Loss of a job can cause not only physical but as well as emotional issues such as depression.
- Work Environment – I was a Human Resources professional and can attest to workers’ many issues during their workday. Some common stress factors while at work:
- Overloaded with work and feel the demand to get it all done.
- Because of technology, you are on 24/7, and there is no boundary between work and personal life.
- You have a family while working, and they also need your attention.
- A problematic manager who does not support you.
- Not making enough money and cannot leave the job.
- Your manager is not clear about what they expect from you.
- Your focus at work is constantly changing.
- Other employees are difficult to work with.
- No opportunities to grow at the company
- A manager who micromanagers everything you do, and you have no control over your work.
- Fear of being laid off or fired.
- No opportunities to socialize with other employees in your company.
- Everyone is so tensed and stressed out because the company is struggling.
- Sitting long hours at work creates tension in the body.
- Trying to do everything perfectly – forget it, as perfection does not exist.
There is a health impact on all of us if we maintain daily stress in our working lives. Take the time to reflect on what areas at work are increasing stress levels in you, examine everything, decide what you can change, what you need to let go of, and find techniques to support you in changing your stress levels at work. Think in terms of reducing stress levels.
Financial issues – it is not uncommon for someone stressed about their finances to get migraines, have difficulty sleeping, or find their productivity at work lessening.
Financial stress can be a constant strain on one’s mind and body. Not having enough money, or managing one’s money poorly, can create migraines, heart issues, and the obvious – sleep issues. People who don’t have money to cover their expenses tend to drop insurance coverage or other health-providing services.
When your mind is going around in circles about how to pay for something, this increases your stress levels. Many people self-medicate with either overeating or alcohol. Because of limited financial resources, the temptation is to choose junk food to eat because they don’t have enough money to buy healthier food items.
Think about how financial stress is impacting you. It’s not easy to solve money issues, though see if you could brainstorm with people you trust to find solutions to your limited resources.
Other Stress Areas
- Death of a loved one – here, a person can be locked into the past, confused about how to handle everything in the present, and cannot see a future ahead without the loved one.
- Getting married – Even something as exciting as getting married causes stress. Planning a wedding, dealing with family and friends, and learning to handle the everyday interactions with your partner. Conflict surfaces more often when you live with another person, and how do you manage it with your partner?
- Moving – this is a challenge both physically and mentally. Time, energy, money, feeling disorganized, and living in one place and not yet in the new place. Moving is tough on families and causes stress for all family members. Moving children away from their friends before they settle in and make new friends is a significant stress for them and the rest of the family.
How to evaluate your stress levels
Check out this stress test:
Perceived Stress Scale – offered by the State of New Hampshire, is a quick evaluation to gauge your stress levels.
It’s essential to manage your stress, and you don’t need to be alone with solving the pressure in your life. Here are some ideas:
- Identify where the stress is coming from.
- Start a journal and write about the areas of your life where stress shows up most frequently. Write about stress areas in your life, and brainstorm how to change. I write in my journal usually every morning and sometimes in the evening. I capture what I am feeling, what didn’t work for me, and how I can make changes to add to my overall well-being. I don’t always follow through, yet writing helps me see the patterns in my thoughts or behaviors and external situations that cause me stress. You can’t change what you are unaware of or understand the causes of your stress.
- Exercise is a powerful stress reducer. Sometimes external events impact us, and we are trying to change our automatic response, which causes us stress. Taking a long walk helps us sort out and figure out what to do next to take care of ourselves.
- Meditation – daily meditation doesn’t radically change our thoughts or behaviors; instead, it reduces tension and helps us become more mindful of our thoughts. Studies show that meditation, a learned practice, helps with many physical and mental issues many of us carry around in our lives.
- Connect with others – it’s important not to isolate yourself when stressed. Reaching out to people you feel safe with allows you to express yourself and release the tension in your mind and body.
- Make time to have fun experiences to set off your stress and tension. Laughter is an immediate mental vacation – it allows you to leave home from your mind and have fun.
- Reach out to professionals – some therapists can help you reframe the thoughts creating stress for you. They can also brainstorm ways to make changes that reduce the stress in your life.
Do you actively evaluate your stress levels and develop ideas to increase your well-being? If you feel overwhelmed and don’t have the time or energy to step back and review how you are feeling, see if you could buddy up with another person to support each other in examining what is happening in your life.
Women’s Group Topics
Discuss ways to reduce stress in your life. Be open to another person’s suggestion that could be a solution for you. Create accountability for all members to develop the next steps in changing stress levels.
“To fully enjoy the ‘richness’ of our lives, we need to stop long enough to visit with ourselves.”
Do you want to download a PDF copy of both of these books, then go to: