There’s nothing wrong with a bit of stress in your life, in fact it’s normal, and a healthy part of being human. However, there is a dark side, and if you’re not careful, it can have a detrimental effect in all areas of your life.
In my opinion, there are three types of stress, the Good the Bad and the Ugly…. Which one do you have?
Good stress helps you focus, take action and helps you succeed in life. You’ll recognise it because it motivates you, so that you can achieve more during the day. It may feel exciting and can ultimately improve your performance.
Everyone experiences stress events, it could occur when you have to make a public presentation, you have a deadline to meet with limited time, even getting stuck in traffic when you’re late for an important meeting or to catch a plane… yes, we’ve all been there.
What happens in your body when you have a stress event is that chemicals called epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol flood your body as soon as the stress event occurs. It’s sometimes known as the “Adrenalin Rush” or the fight or flight response.
I get it when I’m driving, and I see a police vehicle. Even though I’m not speeding my body automatically reacts. I feel those chemicals flooding my body, maybe it’s just me? Love to hear if it happens to you too.
These natural hormones cause your heart to pump faster, blood pressure increases, breathing increases, your body is ready for action.
It really is amazing what you can do when put under a little stress. Impossible deadlines are met, targets exceeded, and people have been known to find unbelievable strength and lift cars off victims caught in automobile accidents.
"The release of adrenaline is rapid, seemingly instantaneous, so that we can respond accordingly to fight-or-flight situations," says Gordon Lynch, a physiologist at the University of Melbourne, Australia.
There are even health benefits to this type of stress….
Moderate stress strengthens the connection between neurons in your brain, improving memory and attention span.
Moderate stress stimulates the production of chemicals called interleukins and gives the immune system a quick boost to protect against illnesses.
Dr Adam Perkins of King's College London, says "Feelings like worry and anxiety may be unpleasant, but it seems they are part of our defensive repertoire and help keep us safe and it is only when they become exaggerated, do they represent an illness."
Generally, this, “Good stress” is short lived and perceived as being within your coping capabilities. But what happens when the “Good Stress” continues for too long, way too long, and your coping ability is starting to come apart?
Too much stress can wear you down and make you sick, both mentally and physically. Your body is not equipped to handle long-term, chronic stress without ill consequences.
If you don't handle stress properly you will start to experience symptoms such as:
headache, weakness, sleepless nights, aching muscles, tiredness, being physically sick, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea.
You’ll recognise it, because as well as some of the above symptoms, it causes you to feel…
Overwhelm, confusion and poor concentration.
Your productivity, confidence and decision-making ability becomes impaired.
You may feel, “analysis paralysis” when trying to make decisions and it is more likely that the decisions you make are riskier than if you were not under this chronic, “Bad Stress.”
You’re short tempered and find yourself snapping at the kids or colleagues and constantly bickering with your wife/husband over silly trivial things.
Maybe you’re avoiding going home at night to avoid the conflict and aggression.
If left untreated, you may even faint or collapse.
This is, “Bad Stress,” and if you’re suffering from it, you need to seek medical advice from a trained professional immediately.
If you don’t heed the warning signs of “Bad Stress”, and it continues, then acute depression, long term depression, dizziness, loss of appetite, mental agony, having no reason to live, organ failure, heart attack, stroke and yes, even an early death is what’s waiting for you.
“Ugly Stress” is extremely dangerous and will most likely have infiltrated all areas of your life.
Your relationships will be affected, separation and divorce are common.
You will be struggling with your business or professional life.
You’re struggling to get out of bed in the morning, let alone cope with a busy workday.
By the time the “Ugly Stress” has been reached, your “Bad Stress” coping mechanisms of alcohol, drugs, gambling, or sex may now have become addictions.
You will be feeling out of control, you may think that you’re hiding it well, however, people will be noticing the change in your behaviour.
Total overwhelm and exhaustion is what you’re experiencing, and it may even lead to suicidal thoughts.
As I said, this is The Ugly Stress and its dangerous but not impossible to turn around.
You need to seek medical advice and get help from a trained professional immediately.
Regardless of where you see yourself, in either “The Good,” “The Bad,” or “The Ugly,” there is help available.
From simple things that you can do yourself today, to getting professional help if you’re already in, “The Bad” and “The Ugly” category.
Getting professional help is what I highly recommend.
Now it's time to learn how to manage your stress....