3 Ways to Know Stress Is Getting To You
One of the most common questions I get is, “How do I know my stress levels are too high?” It is a great question to answer because if you knew when you’re levels are high then you could start to do something about it before you surpass your stress threshold. It’s especially important to understand as we enter the holiday season, statistically one of the most common stressful times for all Americans.
I have a 3-Step process to stress management and the first step is Know Your Stress. This in part also means know your stress response. It’s important to understand and see when stress is having an impact on us, how it shows up, and what consequences we are creating for ourselves. The following ways are sure fire tells for everyone.
Out of Control. The higher our stress levels the harder it is to control our stress response. The more cortisol, epinephrin, and nor-epinephrin we have flowing through our veins and throughout our systems the more we find ourselves quickly lashing out or shutting down. Being out of control is about your inability to stop yourself from reacting to situations, people, and other triggers in a negative way. Here’s what out of control~
- Your assistant drops a file on the floor by accident and you roll your eyes and walk away.
- You look for something in the refrigerator and it’s gone so you slam the door.
- A client/patient is late to their appointment. You walk into the room and start treating them without talking or connecting.
- Driving home the guy in front of you moves over without signaling and cuts you off. You swerve around him and do the same back.
- Your assistant drops a file on the floor by accident and you snap, “Stop being so clumsy!” Or maybe you just think it to yourself.
- You look for something in the refrigerator and it’s gone so you turn to your team and remind them that, “If it’s not theirs they need to keep their hands off.”
- A client/patient is late to their appointment. You walk into the room, turn to your assistant and ask, “How far behind are we now?”
- Driving home the guy in front of you moves over without signaling and cuts you off. You swerve to move around him, yelling at him, “Vengeance is justice!” which appropriately lets him know how rude he is. Then you cut him off thinking, “Eye for an eye.”
2. Out of Proportion. The higher your stress levels sore the more out of proportion your stress response becomes. Where being out of control is about your inability to stop yourself, out of proportion is how your response comes out in relation to the stress producer. For example, driving down the road and you get more and more angry at every red light you are made to stop. There is a crescendo of emotions and behaviors that results in an out of proportion response- yelling and cursing at the red light. Some other life examples are:
- Crying over spilled milk…yup, out of proportion.
- Your assistant calls in sick and you complain to team members about him behind his back.
- A client/patient is asking question after question, draining your energy, testing your patience, and making you run behind for your next appointment. You stand up, tell the client/patient to write all their questions down on paper and you’ll be happy to answer them all at once, and walk out of the room.
- Your husband ate the last of your favorite pie so you throw your napkin on the counter, swearing and yelling how unappreciative he is. Realization here: it’s not him, it’s you!
3. Perpetuance. Your stress response is going to be triggered. It is an automatic, biological system that we cannot stop and nor do we want to. What is a sign that things are getting to you is when your stress response continues for hours or days after the stress producer is gone. For example, the car that cut you off two days prior, your still thinking about it, calling the guy names and badmouthing him. Your body continues to respond biologically days later (heart racing, sweaty palms, butterflies in your belly). Here are some other ways to know your stress response is prolonged:
- You lay awake at night running through the situation in your head, over and over.
- You find yourself daydreaming about the situation, totally reliving the event.
- Your not sure why but your heart keeps racing, your gut is turning over, you experience a slight headache, or you can’t seem to catch your breath.
In order for you to know when your stress is getting to you, it’s important you become more aware of the signs. We each have a stress threshold and when we come close to it’s edge or start walking the line is when we feel the weight, agitation, and burden of our stress response. The goal is to avoid surpassing your stress threshold by understanding what to look for in yourself and others. If you or someone is unable to control their reactions, their response is out of proportion to the situation, or days later they are still having effects, they are in need of help for their stress.
Published by DrBicuspid.com.
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