When does “being busy” become Chronic Stress!
As a business owner, I attend a lot of Network Meetings where I meet a lot of other business owners. The first question on everybody’s lips is usually; “How are you?” Standard answers to this question range from “Great!” to “I’m okay”, “Fantastic! to “Alright”. This question is often followed by the question of how business is going. The answer to this question is often something like; “Oh, I’m very busy!”, “I’m flat out!”, “Can’t keep up with the work, so I’m making long hours!”.
Going into if these business owners use their time wisely and if all the time they’re working is productive, is a whole different subject and not what I want to talk about today. What I do want to look at is the pressure you experience during your work. Is it giving you a healthy level of stress or is it causing you CHRONIC STRESS! Today I want to tell you more about what CHRONIC STRESS is, what it does with your body and what you can do to reduce or avoid CHRONIC STRESS!
What is Chronic Stress?
Stress is your body’s natural responds to sensing danger (real or imagined). You’ll experience your heartrate going up, you start to breath faster, your muscles tighten, you start sweating, your blood pressure goes up and your mouth gets dry.
We need a certain amount of stress in situations where we need to survive! Think about when someone is attacking you, when you’re involved in an accident, when there’s an earthquake or another natural disaster. Your body will respond to save you! Pretty clever isn’t it? Absolutely!
However, when we experience symptoms of stress on a daily basis, this can evolve into CHRONIC STRESS, which basically means that your body is screaming to make changes around the way you are living! We live in a fast pacing world, with high expectations from others and from ourselves. We are constantly switched on, even when away from our computers. There is always the phone to check emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, messages, etc. Even when we are “relaxing”, going out for lunch or dinner, going away for a weekend, being on holiday, spending time with your family, etc. The phone is never far away!
Symptomes of CHONIC Stress
So, how do you know, you are suffering from CHRONIC STRESS? There are many symptoms to tell you, that it’s time for a change;
- Sleep disturbance or Agitation; This could be Insomnia or just not getting comfortable, tossing and turning the whole night, waking up several times during the night, Chronic Fatigue. This can result in over-agitation, moodiness or anger during the day.
- Health or Physical problems; Getting sick frequently or having cold and flu symptoms that just don’t want to go away, unexplained headache, stomach-ache or chest pains, backpains, tight muscles, soreness or cramping of the muscles, diminished sex drive, cardiovascular diseases.
- Emotional Symptoms or changes in mood; A feeling of having no or low energy, getting overwhelmed easily, pessimism or hopelessness, feeling isolated or detached, anxiety, easily being upset, crying uncontrollably, loss of enjoyment, anger and irritability, depression or feeling of worthlessness, panic attacks, panic disorder, can increase an individual’s risk for psychiatric disorders.
- Increase in addictive behaviours; Overeating, undereating, poor judgement, increase in the use of alcohol, drugs, addictive medication, smoking, grinding teeth, biting nails.
- Trouble thinking or concentrating; Obsessive thoughts, difficulty concentrating, being disorganized, debilitating anxiety, avoidance behaviours (like procrastination), feeling that you are not in control, forgetfulness
Become aware of possible symptoms you experience and the severity of these symptoms. When experiencing a combination of several symptoms, it’s time to think about making changes in your lifestyle.
How to reduce or avoid CHRONIC STRESS?
When becoming aware of symptoms of CHRONIC STRESS, most people resort to short-term solutions, like sugary drinks or energy drinks, snacks or alcohol. What about those who need a strong coffee first thing in the morning before they can start their day! If that’s you, please be aware that this coffee is a way of dealing with a symptom of STRESS. You most likely did not get enough sleep or not a restful sleep! What these solutions do is giving you a short burst of energy after which they increase your feeling of tiredness, fatigue, etc.
If you want solutions which give you long-term benefits, look at what lifestyle changes you can make like;
- Are you following a healthy diet or is there room for improvement? Avoid any sugar in your diet, look for food high in protein.
- Do you get the right balance of nutrients through your diet?
- Avoid processed/ packaged food
- Have 2-3 servings of fruit and 3-5 servings of vegetables each day.
- Eat food which contains enough Vitamin B
- Eat slowly
- Watch what you drink;
- Have at least 6-8 glasses of water each day. (This does not include your coffee, tea or other beverages)
- Cut back on coffee and tea
- Cut back on alcohol consumption
- Have a good night sleep, every night! A good night sleep is at least 7-8 hours’ sleep. Turn of tv and other devices at least 30min before you go to bed.
- Are you doing the exercise that is right for you? Maybe you need to change from high energy training to a less intense workout, which focusses on slowing down, stretching your muscles and focussing on your breathing.
- Is your busy time always productive time?
- See what changes you can make to better manage your time.
- Learn to say NO or to delicate tasks which are less important or irrelevant to the task at hand.
- When it’s time to relax, RELAX!
- Turn off your phone and other devices or leave them in the office.
- Spend family time really with the family. Your kids will love you for this!
- Go outside and soak up the fresh air. Get some oxygen pumping through your brains and feel refreshed!
Where to from here?
I hope that this article has been helpful for you and that you have taken an honest look at yourself, your work-life balance, and possible symptoms you experience. I surely hope that I have been able to give you some inside in yourself and that I have given you some ideas of positive changes you can make.
If you would like more info or talk to someone who can help you, please follow the link below to book a half hour health consultation, to discuss what you can do to make changes in your life!
Living with CHRONIC STRESS is a choice, which means that you are in control to change it! Why not start today!