Causes of stress
Three causes of negative stress are lack of control, lack of support from people around you, and lack of meaning in what you are doing. A lot of people try to fill up the emptiness they feel in their lives with more and more work. Studies have shown that stress is not dangerous, as long as the affected person has feels that he or she is able to change the situation, that is, that he or she has a certain amount of control over what is happening.
Stress is the body’s reaction to every demand made on it and is therefore something completely necessary and natural. We react differently to these demands. A stress reaction can cause us to feel everything from hopelessness to rage. Feelings of impatience, anguish, boredom and frustration can also be part of the stress experience. Outwardly, our reactions are noticeable when we unconsciously tense up our shoulders, furrow our brow or bite our teeth together. Or we might get a lump in our throat, a knot in our stomach, a stiff neck or feel pressure over our chest.
Fight or run
What happens in the body during these reactions happened also millions of years ago in our human-like ancestors. At that time, these reactions were quite adequate. Survival was dependent upon the ability to swiftly and powerfully react to danger. They prepared the body for battle, or for escape. This was the body’s way of producing that extra power necessary for us to be able to choose survival instead of death. Physical stress reactions made us stronger and more resilient in battle, or faster and more tenacious in flight.
Our alarm system is on
Today, most of us are rarely exposed to tangible physical danger. Yet the alarm system is more active than ever before. Our brains cannot tell the difference between real and imagined dangers. The alarm system is activated even by emotional distress, such as when you feel threatened, upset, scared, embarrassed or unloved. A bad day at the office, an argument, a job interview, a painful diagnosis, or meeting an angry dog - all produce the same physiological reactions.
Totally drained instead of burned-out
Burnout is an expression we often hear today. It is a word that is often used carelessly instead of worn out, stressed, hurried, overworked, overwrought, strained, tired, depressed, angry, unappreciated or unloved. A better expression to describe the state is totally drained. Being "totally drained" gives us more of a feeling of hope, of eventually being refilled and healed than being "burned-out".
Being totally drained, or burned-out, is a serious psychological, physical, and mental state where we collapse, and it takes quite a lot for us to get there. It is not something that just hits us like a virus; it is something we have been working on for a long while. People who are totally drained have given so much, and been replenished so little, for such a long time, that one day the whole system just says stop.
Several stages before collapse
A person who becomes totally drained passes through several stages before the catastrophe becomes a fact. Life doesn’t suddenly one day just overwhelm you. Before that happens there have been plenty of symptoms that have been neglected.
These symptoms might be headaches, stomach problems, colds that never go away, irritation, moodiness, joylessness or depression. Long-term stress drains us of our inner resources such as creativity, patience, and sense of humor. Only if a person ignores these initial signals will the enormous, chronic, depressing fatigue, where the body collapses from total lack of resources and energy finally take over.
What people who have broken down because of stress have in common is that they all have felt a deep fatigue, and at times lost their ability to remember, understand or reason. Other symptoms may be physical, such as increased sensitivity to pain and infection. Another common result is that the person is less socially active, pulls away from friends, and isolates himself or herself.
Can be cured
Researchers are still unclear on exactly what sort of connections between mind and body lead to stress-related conditions such as burnout, fibromyalgia, posttraumatic stress, chronic fatigue and depression. But they are in agreement that these conditions can be cured.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that a stress less life would be the epitome of happiness, if you do you, you will have forgotten the positive side of stress.
Positive stress is vital and increases your power. It can be very intense, but is usually short-lived, such as meeting a deadline, catching a bus, or making a speech. You work best when you feel stimulated and excited, not when you are bored, or feel limited. Positive stress is the answer to demands that feel inspiring, manageable and challenging, demands that don’t feel like they have been forced on you. Positive stress makes you creative and constructive. Negative stress, on the contrary, is paralyzing and destructive.
Negative stress is what you feel when you are unable to fill the demands that come from inside yourself and/or the demands and expectations your environment makes on you. It is easy to feel insufficient or threatened both physically and mentally. If this is repeated often, you will eventually be affected by it negatively.
Remember that stress is not dangerous, as long as the affected person feels that he or she is able to change the situation, that is, that he or she has a certain amount of control over what is happening. Actually, both self-esteem and creativity are enhanced by challenges we have control over.
Your attitude causes stress
The ability to tell the difference between what you can control and what you cannot, and act accordingly is fundamental to stress management. Even more basic to stress management is the insight that stress is not caused by the problems in themselves. It is your attitude, your interpretation of the problem that causes stress.
Understanding that the real cause of stress is not disappointment, fear, negative expectations, or the people around you but your own attitude toward these things makes it easier to control your reaction to the perceived stress.
You need to either actively work toward changing the situation or decide to change your attitude toward it. It is when we feel "I choose my life" that we are the drivers on the journey through life; we have more control.
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