Stress Series: When Stress is Out of Control
When you are in a stressful situation your body launches a physical response. Your nervous system springs into action, releasing hormones that prepare you to either fight or take off.
Unfortunately, in 2019 being stressed can often be about things like 'not having enough people like our Instagram post', which can be a constant trigger; a trigger very real in both our minds and the symptoms.
Stress triggers our body to release the hormone cortisol from our adrenal glands. Scientists and medical professionals know that elevated cortisol impairs our learning and memory, lowers our immune system, decreases bone density, increases weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease.
To top it off, when cortisol remains high for longer than normal periods of time, it becomes chronic. Chronic stress keeps our cortisol levels elevated and increases the risk for depression, anxiety, other mental illnesses, as it decreases our resilience.
Our response to modern day stressors like lack of likes, no longer necessitates running at full speed through the jungle to evade a tiger who is chasing us thereby giving us some release. A physical release like fight or flight has been historically crucial in preventing cortisol from building up in our bodies.
Instead, we sit in a funk in our office chair, slumping further, feeling helpless, and seeing no way out - further perpetuating our stress. We end up losing motivation to take action like all fresh faces you follow seem to be doing. We feel an increasing gap between what you and others are capable of achieving.
Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.
-Rule #4 in Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules for Life: an Antidote to Chaos.
While there are many causes of stress, there are small actions we can take to control how if or when stress impacts us. Some of the most common causes of emotional stress include:
Chronic illness or injury
Social media technology
Emotional problems (depression anxiety, anger, guilt , grief etc)
Today, often our stress comes from the inside. You can stress yourself out just from worrying about any of the things listed above and by harbouring fear, uncertainty, unrealistic expectations and change.
As Dr. Heather mentioned in her post, stress can manifests itself in a very physical way as well.
Solution: There's something you can do :)
While physical releases to stress are natural and helpful (ie. exercise), you can use mindful releases can also help you bring down cortisol levels. I focus here on picking one thing to control.
We will look at one example and how you can control it to minimize or eliminate stress.
Stress can sneak up on us from many directions or corners in our life, so lets just try to control one at a time.
Control: Learning self-control or any control gives us a tool to break down and release stress.
Money: I know I mentioned it twice above, but money is responsible for too much of the stress in our lives today. What can we do right now to reduce the stress you experience when thinking about your financial situation?
Counting! Counting is something I learned in kindergarten.
I decided last year, my most direct path to total financial independence was to control my finances. My starting point was counting. I am using basic arithmetic to reduce my financial stress, adding up everything I spend money on each week. (I am using and loving Freshbooks!)
This act of control was very revealing, and surprisingly comforting. My awareness has grown tremendously. My behavior is starting to shift and I am significantly more relaxed when I think about money. Every time I get worried, I realized it's because there's an unknown. So, I go and count everything up so I know where I'm at. It makes me aware, and the awareness makes me relax!
You can do it too. Just one step at a time.
Only you can save you. Stop waiting to be rescued <3