Have you ever been told that you your symptoms could be stress related, but deep down you truly felt that was not the case? Or you’re telling someone about, what you considered to be a fairly average few days and they say, “Wow, you’ve had a really stressful week”.
It may seem obvious that if you were stressed, it would be easily identifiable. But you would probably be surprised at how subtle stress can be. We tend to stop seeing the stressful things in our life because they become routine. Just as when a muscle remains tensed and noted, we forget what true relaxation actually feels like.
It’s helpful to look at stress as water and your body and mind are just a bucket. Once the bucket is full the stress overwhelms the mind and body, and you start to see symptoms.
If we are unaware of all the stress in our lives, it becomes hard to identify and deal with stress symptoms.
We need to change the way we look at what stress is, to be able to see when our bucket, maybe getting close to overflowing and how to empty our stress bucket as much as we can.
Stress, good or bad, fills your bucket.
That’s right! That means if your bucket is overflowing with stress and your doctor or friend suggests exercise to relax, because exercise can be a major stress on the body, you might leave that workout feeling even worse the next day.
I suffered from heart palpitations for over a year, every time I’d start to feel well enough to exercise, the next day the heart palpitations would be right back. That’s because exercise can be a big stress on the body. If you already have a full stress bucket, it might be a time to stick to walking and light yoga.
Dieting or caloric restriction to lose weight is also a stressor. I’m not suggesting you eat like crap, because that is another stressor on the body, and not exercise. I just want you to be aware that being alive is stressful. It’s up to you to be aware of what is filling your bucket and prioritize the stresses you really want by lowering or getting rid of others to keep the bucket from overflowing.
Food. Did you know that some food will add to your stress bucket. Most of the time this isn’t a problem, but if your bucket is filled to the brim or already overflowing, your stress symptoms are going to be made worse by certain foods.
Coffee. Caffeine. You or someone you know may have drank coffee every day for years and then one day, they couldn’t drink it anymore. Caffeine another thing filling your bucket.
Lack of Sleep. Sleep deprivations and low quality sleep fills your bucket.
Dehydration. Not drinking enough water to meet your personal needs, fills the bucket.
Processed food, and sugar. How full is your bucket getting?
Here is a tough one. Lack of vitamin D or any vitamin of course will be a stress on the body, but did you know that sun exposure, even though you need the sun, it is good for you, sun exposer just like exercise and some healthy foods, creates a stress response. You can see this from people who are extremely sensitive to the stress response actually having an allergic reaction to the sun.
Thoughts. Our thoughts create stress. Most of our bucket is being filled with stress thoughts. And we have no idea just how quickly these stressful thoughts can fill our buckets.
Some of the most common stress thoughts are about scarcity. There is not enough time, not enough money, I’m not enough, they are not enough.
Your brain doesn’t understand that these thoughts are not helpful and should really just be ignored, because there is only so much time and we can only do what we can do.
Stressing over it will not make you any more efficient, most of the time it makes you less efficient, activating the stress response which in the body is the fight or flight response. The fight or flight response is great in a sprint, but life is a marathon.
Your body doesn’t function well on histamine and adrenal for longs periods of time, that is when we start seeing unexplained symptoms that your doctor tells you is stress and you don’t believe them since you don’t feel any different then you’ve always felt. Your normal has become the fight or flight response.
Now think of all the other thoughts that bring you stress. It’s easy to see that if your bucket isn’t overflowing, if you are not having stress symptoms, you are probably not the norm.
Take some time to identify all the physical and mental areas in your life that are filling your bucket. Identifying stress is the first step to managing it.