Since 1992, April is recognized as Stress Awareness Month the purpose of which is to bring attention to the negative impact stress has on wellbeing. The ability to manage stress is essential for having a healthy lifestyle. It not only improves mental and physical well-being but also minimizes the effects of other health-related issues.
The Dalai Lama was asked what surprised him most about humanity. He responded, "Man! Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
The quest for making money is certainly a stress factor for many people. However, beyond the quest for making money, especially for entrepreneurs, are the stresses that come along with the challenges of everyday life, work, personal, familial relationships and responsibilities.
Thus, I am posing this question: Are You Stressed – Overwhelmed – Stretched? I call this our own S.O.S. call. Many of us are in the throes of this situation, the result of which is a big breakdown in our wellbeing. Stress has been known as the silent killer.
There are many situations in which people find themselves amid their S.O.S. call; situations that differ
differ from person to person.
Because of this fact, there is not a single definition or stress-related symptom that applies to each person. For example, some people may experience loss of appetite, others indulge in overeating. Yet others may feel sad, frustrated, depressed, helpless, have difficulty sleeping or concentrating. The physical effects can also manifest in different ways from headaches, backaches, stomach issues. Other people may turn to even more harmful ways of coping with stress, including alcohol and/or drugs.
Let’s examine some of the specific effects stress has on your body. When you experience a stressful situation, the stress hormone cortisol rushes into your bloodstream which puts your body into “fight or flight” response mode. This results in increased blood pressure, and glucose levels. While this is helpful in emergency situations, it can be harmful for our body to be in this state for an extended period of time.
Starting with the brain, the production of the chemical cortisol in the brain can damage short-term memory. There are actual studies that show it reduces the amount of your brain’s gray matter. Also, stress hormones can increase energy and there are some people that report when experiencing increased stress, they find themselves grinding their teeth when sleeping resulting in waking up with a headache.
During periods of high anxiety, stress hormones can narrow the heart’s arteries increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. There are also reports that increased stress over a long period of tie can cause seasonal allergy flare ups.
Stress can slow the digestive tract resulting in increasing inflammation which can result in reduced movement of physiologic processes. This leads to pain, gas, or other elimination difficulties. Stress has also been known to negatively affect gut bacteria, otherwise called the gut brain, which can reduce the immune system.
All this to say, are you aware of and can you recognize when you feel stressed, especially in advance of any physical or emotional impact on your wellbeing?
When you can control your stress you can have increased strength flexibility, endurance, and vitality.
Emotionally it can generate more awareness and control over feelings, improve emotional range and flexibility which can benefit relationships. It can help you respond to situations with more ease and help you self-regulate or manage disruptive emotions and impulses.
Mentally it can improve your focus and attention span, thereby improving productivity in all areas of your life. It can help you achieve a more optimistic world view and become more open to differing and multiple views which can benefit you personally when having to make decisions or come up with creative solutions to your own dilemmas or challenges.
How do you recognize you are in S.O.S. mode and how do you go from the ominous S.O.S. call to a the more favorable call?
I call this SOS - Strategies Of Success and they are part of the IMpathy® Project. IMpathy® is a word I coined for this journey. What are the healthy copies strategies, and can you pursue them?
Your health and wellbeing is dependent on it and begins with awareness.
Awareness: Consider these questions:
Are you experiencing sleepless nights?
Are you irritable at work and at home?
Are you experiencing either loss of appetite, binging or self-medicating with unhealthy substances?
Do you have difficulty concentrating?
Do You have unexplained weight loss, back pain or have other physical or medical symptoms?
Are you having trouble getting along with others. Find yourself argumentative, short tempered, easily frustrated?
One solution is to develop a plan for healthy living, wellness, and personal growth. I call this an IMpathy® Well-Being Action Plan.
Developing strategies as part of a well-being action plan can also be thought of as developing a daily resilience practice. This allows a person to develop a coping strategy which influences the ability to tolerate change, stress, uncertainty, and other types of adversity. This also contributes to a more positive and productive outlook.
We all experience challenging and stressful situations, but it’s what you can get out of it or take from it that can help you move forward in a better way.
Whether you choose to go it alone or pursue the road to your wellbeing with support,
Strategies Of Success are widely known and fall into various categories. Exercises and strategies that boost Awareness and Mindfulness, address Thoughts and Attitude, boost Self-Care, Self-Compassion, provide you with the resources to be practice IMpathy® which I call the inner game of empathy. It not only helps you with your self-kindness but you will likely become be kinder towards others, which in turns benefits your own health and well-being.
To find out more about the IMPathy® Project and how you can develop your IMpathy® Wellness Action Plan to overcome feeling Stressed - Overwhelmed - Stretched