We have all heard the word stress before, but what do we really know about the word?
For the purpose of this blog, I will define two types of stress which are referred to as acute and chronic stress. Acute stress is the response to an immediate threat when we are in immediate danger. The second type of stress which happens to be running rampant amongst most of us in today’s world is chronic stress. I will be focusing on chronic stress throughout this blog.
Chronic stress is when you are under the perception that you are experiencing immediate threat but all the time; deadlines at work, bills to pay, kid’s activities to get to, friends to see, parents to help, university papers to complete, a spouse or a intimate partner to please.
The major problem is that chronic stress activates the same response within your nervous system as acute stress does. When you are chronically stressed day to day then you are internally activating the same response as you would if you were in imminent danger. Your nervous system does not differentiate between acute or chronic stress. For further information on the nervous system, see my blog titled nervous system.
What does stress do to your body?
When a threat or a perceived threat(stressor) occurs, this activates your nervous system response, your body releases cortisol to counter act the stressor. Cortisol is a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands to allow you to get a burst of adrenaline to become faster and stronger to escape the stressor. If the threat is short term such as an animal attack, cortisol is indeed helpful. When cortisol production becomes an issue, is when the perceived threat is your actual day to day life, then you are constantly producing cortisol which can lead to bodily harm and physical complications.
Symptoms of prolonged chronic stress are weakened immune system, high blood pressure, hypertension, stomach issues, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, headaches, migraines, weight gain, acne, neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, hip pain, leg pain, general body pain, low levels of energy, poor sleep, mood swings, irritability and the list goes on and on.
Do you have any of these symptoms? Could you be dealing with the impacts of chronic stress?
If the answer is a maybe, yes or YES!
Then I ask the following:
What is more important then your health?
Can you work without health?
Are you capable of raising your kids without health?
Do you think you can please your parents without your health?
Would you be able finish your homework without your health?
Can you clean the house without your health?
Can you go to family dinners without your health?
Would you be productive without your health?
What was your answer?
By answering these questions, you may have concluded that you need to plan for stress, that you need to value your health as your priority, and you might be wondering what to do. If you feel that you must work a lot, that your family is full of drama, that nobody respects you, that your overwhelmed, then perhaps it is time for a life upgrade. Perhaps, it is time to invest in yourself and make some positive changes.
We all know that we need to eat healthy, we need to exercise, we need to sleep properly, while finding the time to balance work with rest and play. However, the fact is most of us do not do this, we ignore ourselves and do not participate in self care. Perhaps, you do not realize that by living a chronically stressful life and neglecting yourself that you’re diminishing your capacity to combat a major stressor that will inevitably occur at some point in your lifetime.
I suggest you plan for stress by building a capacity.
I suggest that you need to plan for stress by building a capacity rather than diminish your current capacity because life can be random, unpredictable and just cruel sometimes. Unavoidingly, life is going to happen and be hard to handle because we will all experience losses, break ups, get fired or laid off, and people around us will become sick or die.
Capacity can be accurately defined as the amount of output that a system can maintain over time.
Your mind, nervous system and body is the system and the output would be the amount of energy you have to give to others over time.
In order to have the capacity to handle these huge life stressors, we need to minimize the smaller day to day stressors. I am not minimizing your life, or what happens in your life, believe me I have combated stress for years, however I have learned the hard way that if you do not build a strong capacity then you can break in a bad way. You need to plan for stress and put the work in to build a capacity to handle stress.
If you do not work on building a capacity, and only export energy and do not input energy then you will ultimately become worn down by life itself, life expectations and daily stressors. This lack of capacity can lead to negatively coping such as smoking, drinking, illegal drugs, prescription pills, overeating, gambling, shopping, and binge watching Netflix, and living through social media.
How to build a capacity:
In the context of coaching, capacity building includes supporting clients as they seek to increase both their confidence and their competence in order to achieve what matters most to them. Capacity building is both internal, as we cultivate the mental and emotional support system necessary for success (i.e., confidence), and external, as we develop the competencies and skillsets required to move into new levels of success and accomplishment. You are planning for stress because stress will happen.
Tools for building Capacity:
Self Care Empowerment
Spiritual Connection (Does not have to be organized religion, can be whatever you desire or fits for you)
Subconscious Shifting, Challenging Self Limiting Beliefs (Reprogramming)
Hiring a Life Coach and investing in a Life Upgrade Plan