Listening to the Warning Signs of Stress
The latest annual nationwide survey on stress by the American Psychological Association has been released. Since 2006 the APA commissioned this survey as part of its Mind/Body Health campaign. According to the 2010 report, we are an overstressed nation. Survey findings have consistently shown that the majority of Americans are living with moderate (4 – 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 means you have little or no stress and 10 means you have a great deal of stress) or high (8 – 10 on a scale of 1 to 10) levels of stress. And while they understand that this is not healthy, they’re stymied in their efforts to make changes.
Adults seem to understand the importance of eating right and getting enough sleep and exercise, but they are often unsuccessful in practicing these healthy behaviors. The reasons stem from “being too busy” - a major barrier, to “a lack of motivation, energy and time.” This year more adults are dissatisfied with the ways that their employer helps them to balance work and non-work demands. In general, concern about job stability is on the rise.
Are You Listening to the Warning Signs of Stress?
Stress is your body’s natural reaction to any kind of demand that disrupts life as usual. In small doses, stress is good - such as when it helps you conquer a fear or gives extra endurance and motivation to get something done. But there’s also bad stress, which is often caused by worries such as money, work, relationships, or health - whether it be sudden and short or long-lasting. Feeling stress for too long, whether for several hours, days or months, sets off your body’s warning system of physical and emotional alarms.
Your body’s stress warning signs tell you that that something isn’t right. Much like the glowing orange “check engine” light on your car’s dashboard, if you neglect the alerts sent out by your body, you could have a major engine malfunction. Stress that is left unchecked or poorly managed is known to contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and suicide.
So when things aren’t going your way, or you feel like you are losing control or are overwhelmed, pay attention to the warning signs listed below. They are just some of the ways that your body is telling you it needs maintenance and extra care.
Everyone reacts to stress differently, and each body sends out its different set of red flags. Some people may not even feel the physical or emotional warning signs until hours or days of stressful activities. But when you do notice a stiff back or that you are snapping at your employees, pay attention to the signs and listen to what your body is telling you. While the adrenaline rush after acing that complicated procedure is something to enjoy, the warning signs of stress are not anything to take lightly or ignore. By noticing how you respond to stress, you can manage it better and in healthy ways, which will help your body correct itself, reducing the high cost and care of chronic, long-term health problems…for you and for your team.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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