We live in a world of exponential change that often results in stress in our lives. Stress can come from the high pace of change, from increasing mobility, from time pressures, from work, from feeling like things are out of our control, from fear, from strained relationships, from competition, and from emotions such as frustration and anger. We also need to understand the effect of the combination of stressors – the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.
Doctor Richard Swensen outlines how stress can affect us in many areas of our life:
- Psychologically – stress has a profound effect on our psychological well-being, Symptoms can include: depression, withdrawal, apathy, mental fatigue, anxiety, negative thinking, difficulty making decisions, exaggerated worry, anger and hostility, impatience, forgetfulness, and confusion.
- Physically – our response to stress is also physical. Symptoms can include: rapid pulse, palpitations, increased blood pressure, hyperactivity, ulcers, irritable bowel, tightening of the muscles, headaches, weight changes, compromised immune system, unexplained fatigue, itching, insomnia, and shortness of breath.
- Behaviourally – what our mind and body experience, our behaviour often express. Behaviours can include: irritation with friends and colleagues, bossiness, outbursts of temper, withdrawal and detachment, sudden tears, changes in eating or sleeping patterns or in our sexual drive, accident proneness, reckless driving, or even compulsive shopping.
Because of the pace of life, the lack of margin, and the stress of living in the 21st century, we can easily drain our reserves and before we know it, we’re running on empty. The warning lights come on and we know we can’t keep going or we’re going to ‘crash and burn’. We must refuel!
More on that tomorrow ...