You know what it’s like when you’re down to the wire on a project and suddenly that jolt of adrenalin kicks in and gets you to the finish line? That’s stress. In small doses, stress can give you a welcome energy boost and the increased focus you need to get the job done. But when you’re dealing with massive doses of stress – especially unrelenting stress with no recovery periods - it can take a physical, mental and emotional toll. When your brain perceives danger – real or imagined - your natural survival instincts spring to your defense and you go into “fight or flight” mode. Your heart rate speeds up, your muscles tighten, your focus sharpens and your blood starts pumping faster. Stress can protect you by increasing your reaction time so that you’re able to slam on the brakes and avoid hitting a car that suddenly pulls out in front of you. Stress also keeps you sharp when you’re giving a presentation or studying for final exams.
The problem is that the amount of stress in your life can elevate without your even realizing it. I call this stress creep. It’s not hard for our stress to creep up on us in our ultra-driven society where we seem to pride ourselves on being crazy, busy, slammed on a 24/7 basis. And it’s literally 24/7 since our cyber-gadgets and social networking systems have added a right-now urgency and around-the-clock accessibility to our lives like never before.
So how do you know if your stress is under control or off the charts? Get a quick snapshot by answering the questions below with the following scores: 4 always, 3 often, 2 sometimes, and 1 never.
TEST YOUR STRESS CREEP
1. Are you drowning in deadlines? 2. Has your stress increased over the past year? 3. Are you juggling multiple responsibilities? 4. Have you lost or gained more than 10 pounds in the past year? 5. Is achievement important to you? 6. Is it hard for you to relax, nap or enjoy down time? 7. Do your ever feel guilty that your prioritize work over family or friends? 8. Are you impatient or irritable? 9. Do you skip vacation time even when you desperately need it? 10. Do you loved ones ever beg you to slow down?
Now, add your scores and see how your stress levels stack up.
10 – 20 TOO LAID BACK - While it’s good to be laid back in moderation, you’ve got so little stress in your life you’re probably not achieving much. You may also lack excitement or stimulation. Could it be that you’ve traded stress for stuck?
21 – 30 UNDER CONTROL - You’ve got a good handle on managing your stress, juggling your responsibilities and living a well-balanced life. Continue to keep your stress under control while you start getting more aggressive about getting unstuck. You can handle it!
31 – 40 OVER THE TOP - You are waaaaay too stressed. Get it under control or you may be heading for some serious repercussions. Start some de-stressing tactics immediately and consider scheduling a full physical. How are you going to get unstuck when you’re recovering from a stroke or heart attack?
If you landed in the “too laid back” category, maybe you’ve already written yourself off as an unmotivated, low-energy loser. Or, perhaps, you’re at the “over the top” end of the spectrum, but think your headaches, nausea and sleeplessness are just part of being a high-achiever. Wake up and smell the cortisol! We’re fooling ourselves to think that feeling bad is causing our stress when, in fact, it’s the other way around. It’s often our stress that’s making us feel bad. Lots of us, apparently, because numerous studies have indicated that between 60-90% of doctor’s visits are stress-related.
Stress robs you of the energy, focus and enthusiasm you need to get unstuck and on track to success. But stress doesn’t just keep you stuck, stress kills. It can elevate your blood pressure, raise your risk of heart disease and stroke, and suppress your immune system. It can also sap the joy that is truly your birthright.
Luckily, there are some inherent conditions that enhance people’s ability to handle stress. See if you are fortunate enough to possess any of the following factors:
* A solid network of supportive friends and family. * Openness to change and an ability to roll with the punches. * An optimistic outlook about life. * A sense of humor and cheerful attitude. * A belief in a higher power or life purpose. * Self-control and confidence in your ability to cope
If the characteristics above describe you, keep reinforcing your stress-busting lifestyle. You’ll need it as you work to get unstuck, pushing forward into new areas of life change which, inevitably, will bring new stresses. If you don’t possess the traits listed above, it’s time to read You Unstuck and some great techniques for countering stress creep for good.
To YOUR amazing life,
Libby Gill, Branding Expert, Bestselling Author, and Executive Coach Bestselling Author of: You Unstuck http://www.LibbyGill.com/Club
PS: Remember, developing accountability partners to support you as you get UNSTUCK is a HUGE motivator. Feel free to join my Accountability Club – I’m running a $1 / 1 month trial just so you can try it on for size http://www.LibbyGill.com/Club.