Stephanie Papadakis, WellTheory Health Coach
Stress is a part of life! It has been for the extent of human history and it is important for our growth as individuals. There are two types of stress, “eustress” and “distress,” that each has its own effects on our bodies and minds. Eustress is a form of stress that we consider positive. It can feel energizing and motivate us to make positive shifts in our lives. The second type of stress, distress, is one that places pressure on us. It can often feel overwhelming or exhausting and may manifest in more uncomfortable symptoms such as racing heart, sleep deprivation, or upset stomach. As you can see, stress can be helpful, so we don’t want to rid ourselves of it completely. It plays a part in how we grow and rise to challenges. However, we do want to learn to manage stress so we can minimize negative effects on our bodies and minds.
You may already know that during a stressful event cortisol rises, which allows our bodies to focus on the task at hand. This is our “fight or flight” response, the one we are wired with that once allowed us to run from a tiger when our lives were at risk.
However, our modern life doesn’t involve many tiger encounters. This means a once life-saving hormonal response is now causing an excess of pressure on both our physical and psychological health.
During an acute stress response, a few important things happen that make it very important for us to be able to manage this response!
In times of acute stress you may experience symptoms such as a racing heart, insomnia, difficulty focusing, anxiety, headaches, gut pain or irregular stools, and even chest pain!
If you remain in a period of stress for an extended time, your body’s response begins to change. You may start to notice deep fatigue, aches and pains, and changes in mood and motivation. Feeling depressed is also very common in chronic fatigue, as the body has a much harder time making and maintaining balanced hormones.
Can you see why learning to manage our stress is such an important topic?
When we think of stress, we usually think of mental and emotional stress — the feeling of too many things to be done, or a big life event. While these are certainly common forms of stress, stress can also come in the form of physical stress, such as illness or lack of sleep. When assessing stressors in daily life, it’s important to include these physical stressors to get a more accurate picture of where we stand on the stress continuum.
Physical symptoms are also a way to understand the load of stress our body is under. You may feel that your mental stress is under control, but if you are still experiencing flares in physical symptoms, that’s a sign that your body needs more rest than it’s currently getting.
The psychological experience of stress is also very individualized. What one person considers a stressful event may not feel at all stressful to another person. We each have our own unique capacity to handle stress. In order to manage stress effectively, you need to understand the pressure on you and your body in daily life.
The first step of managing stress is understanding your own stressors and key signs of stress. These will be different for each individual. It’s important to remember that there are both physical and mental/emotional stressors.
When you click on the button below, you’ll examine both physical and psychological stressors in daily life to help you gain a deeper understanding of where you fall within the stress spectrum.
Take a few minutes to fill in the statements below to so that you can begin to better understand your key stressors in daily life:
“I feel stressed when...”
“I feel overwhelmed when...”
“I feel less stressed when...”
Outside of our Stress Assessment, there are two additional ways you can monitor your stress:
Select a day to schedule a free 15-minute call with a member of our Care Team.