"I don't have any stress. I'm not stressed." These two statements might be a bubbling brew of denial, misguided self-preservation, or misinformation.
You may be stressed if:
- You quickly get upset over small things. Things that won't matter in a week, a day or even in an hour.
- You spend increasing amounts of time doing something of no great importance and often when there is a more pressing, urgent task to be performed.
- Unlike the bus, which you just seem to miss, you catch every virus that is on the illness circuit.
- Most of your thoughts, when you finally do become aware of them, sound like a soap-box orator predicting dire circumstances and less-than-favourable outcomes in many areas of your life, no matter what you do.
- Sleep. Who me? You either have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Or even worse, both.
Canadian researcher Hans Selye defined stress as the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change. Non-specific meaning that there can be as many signs and symptoms of stress as there are crayola crayons in the box. His definition was coined in 1936 - before the world began its seemingly faster and faster revolution, spinning, spinning, spinning until you feel like you are a tight, bundle of stress. You hold on, but as you do, you notice that you are becoming more impatient, frustrated, worried or angry. You might go the other way though, retreating into frequent bouts of sadness, dejection, isolation or depression. Either way, you're off-balance.
How do you restore your balance?
- Recognize that you are in a less-than-ideal state. If you don't know, you are less likely to be proactive and apply techniques to make yourself feel better.
- Pause. How are you breathing? What is your posture like?
- Recall a time when you felt loved. What does that feel like?
- Use your feelings to improve your heart rate variability.
- Repeat often - not only to address and undress your stress, but to improve and enhance your performance.
Your turn: What are your signs and symptoms of stress?