What is the Worse Kind of Stress?
The most harmful form of stress is not just the result of major life crisis, death of a spouse, divorce, loss of a job or critical incidents like those of 9/11/01. While the stress associated with these events is often severe, it is also short-lived and therefore has little time to cause damage to our bodies if they are dealt with appropriately. They can, however, cause an already full load of stress to become overwhelming.
Far worse, scientists now theorize, is the chronic, uncontrolled low-level tension caused by our responses to the pressures and irritations of everyday life - such as difficulties at work or at home, anger, rejection, interruptions, being late for work, financial anxieties, arguing with a loved one, deadlines. Each little frustration that occurs throughout the day speeds the heart rate, dilates the pupils and floods the bloodstream with powerful hormones. In the long-term, this uncontrolled low-level tension forces the body to go into overdrive, sapping our energy and damaging our physical and emotional health.
Take the "Stress Index" self test below and see what little things might be adding up to big problems for you.
Chronic unrelieved stress harms the immune system, decreasing the body's ability to fight diseases, infection and allergy. Medical conditions that are related to stress include heart and circulatory diseases, ulcers, colitis, asthmatic conditions and lowered immunity leading to infectious illnesses. Depression and anxiety are also commons symptoms of chronic stress overload.
How Can I Take Care Of Myself?
The good news is that it is our response to a given situation that determines whether we are feeling "stressed" or not. What's chronically upsetting to you may not irritate your spouse or a co-worker at all. Our response to stress is highly individual. What reduces stress is also varies. What is important is that we counter balance and/or replace negative stress situations with positive experiences, at least 2 to 1. In the end, this ratio will determine your overall health quotient.
Experiment with the tips from "Stress Proofing Your Life" at the bottom of the Stress Index and create some of your own methods as well.
One last hint for living a stress resilient life: SEEK JOY! Surround yourself with people, things, events, activities etc. that make you smile and give you peace from the inside out! This is a personal coaching maxim, which, when applied, can balance your life from moment to moment. The little joy things add up too!
STRESS INDEX: The Little Things Add Up!
HOW STRESSED OUT ARE YOU RIGHT NOW?
INSTRUCTIONS: Circle the number which comes closest to representing how true the statement is for you right now. Then, score yourself, using the key at the bottom of the page.
1 is Less True, 5 is Mostly True
1 2 3 4 5 A close family member died in the past 12 months.
1 2 3 4 5 I moved to a new town in the past 12 months.
1 2 3 4 5 I changed jobs in the past 12 months.
1 2 3 4 5 My son/daughter left home in the past 12 months.
1 2 3 4 5 A close friend/family member who is ill depends on you for care.
1 2 3 4 5 I've had a major health problem in the past 12 months.
1 2 3 4 5 A close relationship ended in the past 12 months.
1 2 3 4 5 I lost my job or retired in the past 12 months.
1 2 3 4 5 I got married in the past 12 months.
1 2 3 4 5 I took on a lot of debt in the past 12 months.
1 2 3 4 5 I got divorced or separated in the past 12 months.
1 2 3 4 5 I lost a lot of money in the past 12 months.
1 2 3 4 5 I have ongoing marital problems.
1 2 3 4 5 I have ongoing sexual problems.
1 2 3 4 5 I have ongoing financial problems.
1 2 3 4 5 I have ongoing trouble with friends or relatives.
1 2 3 4 5 I have ongoing problems meeting family demands.
1 2 3 4 5 I have ongoing pressure at work or school.
1 2 3 4 5 I have ongoing pressure with emotional problems.
1 2 3 4 5 I am constantly facing do-or-die deadlines.
__________ TOTAL SCORE (add up all numbers)
20 - 35 Virtually stress free
36 - 50 Somewhat stressful
51 - 75 Stressed - watch out
76 - 100 Super stressed - reduce all pressures in your life or someone will be calling 911.
Read On For 'Stress Proofing Your Life'