In a world where it’s becoming more and more pressurised, I am not surprised a lot of us are feeling stressed out. We work longer hours, money problems are common, as are family problems, and the social support of the neighbour down the road that knew about 55 generations of our family, is just non-existent these days.
When you find there’s a lot going on that’s making you anxious, anything and everything that happens on top of this will only cause an even greater reaction of what your normal level would be. Whether we realise it or not, this excessive reaction is us trying to protect ourselves.
Stress and pressure are two very different animals. Pressure can be motivating and a good thing, but when pressure grows this in turn becomes stress and stress is harmful, not only for our relationships but also for our health.
Evolved as hunter gatherers we needed those reactions to run away or fight. This type of stress is ok because after we have got our dinner, or run away from that huge dinosaur, the body returns to normal. But with chronic stress, stress of work, money, kids, divorce etc., we don’t get the chance to return to normal before the next stressor comes along.
If our HPA axis (stress system) is constantly being stimulated, our levels of cortisol rise. This in turn can make us more vulnerable to heart disease, diabetes, unhealthy coping mechanisms and there is even a link to brain shrinkage and neuron destruction.
New evidence is emerging all the time, particularly from our brain. Resilience in later life can be affected by stress from as early on as the womb (stress can change the foetus’ brain), our own genes and environments. All these factors can come together to make us more susceptible to stress.
So, it seems a fab idea to try to eliminate those factors that we can, yes?
- If stress is getting overwhelming, get the maximum support you can. Generally, women are far better than men at this, but I’m hoping times have changed and men realise it is really ok not to be ok, all of the time.
- And remember conflict is ok, noisy houses are ok, but it all depends on whether the conflict and stress gets resolved. Resolution of problems in the family have shown not to be damaging, it’s those conflicts that rumble on that cause the most damage.
- The brain can and will recover. There are so many hints and tips out there to relieve stress and I love a lot of them. They do work, but in my view they are only plasters. To really get a handle on stress, the deep rooted, underlying issues need to be dealt with. Sometimes we don’t know what they are, sometimes we do. That is where I come in. As always, you know where I am. Take care for now.