Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.’
– Eckhart Tolle, author of “The Power of Now”.
The important word here is ‘brief’! Any prolonged emotional experience usually results in stress
Stress is any change in the environment that requires your body to react. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses.
Stress is a normal part of life. Many events that happen to you and around you -- and many things that you do yourself -- put stress on your body. You can experience good or bad forms of stress from your environment, your body, and your thoughts.
Physical Stress can be a disease or just a cold or flu, a broken arm or leg, an accident.
Then there is “Emotional Stress” which is difficult to distinguish from the mental. Which came first...the thought about something which brings up the feelings; or the feelings about an event past or future which brings up the thoughts which continue to run through your mind like a broken tape.
“Mental Stress” can be caused by constant thoughts of a past experience or incident. Thoughts that just keep coming up about a situation...the guilt, blame or shame about it. To worry and be anxious about the future.
There is also “Spiritual Stress”, which many don’t usually consider. “Is my life on the right path, in the good relationship, job, house, etc.”? “Am I following my insights, instincts”? “Am I following my heart”? “Do I have that inner connection to my higher self”?
In reality, each day brings on a combination of all the above. An emotion will bring on a physical reaction or vice versa. A mental thought will instigate an emotion. Things about our spiritual life, or lack of, will cause emotions to rise and thoughts of self- blame, guilt, or even fear of "what happens after life".
The type of stress matters
Stress can affect you both instantly (acute stress) and over time (chronic stress). It can come from a trauma which results in PTSD (Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder), or a shock from a broken heart!
Stress can be good or bad; positive or negative.
Being alive, we are going to experience stress. There is no way of avoiding it. Any distress causes stress!
The question is, how do we deal with it? How are we allowing it to affect us? Can we recognize it for what it is? Are we so use to feeling a certain way we don't know it’s causing any of our problems? " it's just the way it is!" " That's life!" “I have no control over it!”
Acute stress is the most common form of stress. It comes from demands of the recent past and anticipated demands of the near future. Acute stress is thrilling and exciting in small doses, but too much is exhausting. A fast run down a challenging ski slope, for example, is exhilarating early in the day. That same ski run late in the day is taxing and wearing. Skiing beyond your limits can lead to falls and injuries. By the same token, overdosing on short-term stress can lead to psychological distress, tension headaches, upset stomach and other symptoms.
Fortunately, acute stress symptoms are recognized by most people. It's a laundry list of what has gone awry in their lives: the auto accident, the loss of an important contract, a deadline they're rushing to meet, a child's problems at school, doing a presentation or interview or taking an exam.
Acute stress is the kind the body is designed to deal with. The fight or flight kind. This is the stress caused by life's unpleasant moments when the heart races, digestion stops, blood is rushed to the muscles and adrenaline is pumped into the body for a quick getaway finishing a job! These acute situations usually pass quickly. And that is a good thing!
Long-term stress becomes Chronic stress when a person doesn’t see a way out of a miserable situation. It's the stress of unrelenting demands and pressures for seemingly interminable periods of time. With no hope, the individual gives up searching for solutions.
Most chronic stress is self- induced. We go through the same stuff each day without realizing what we are feeling. Each day usually begins with being startled with an alarm clock, a quick breakfast ...or none...into traffic, the possibility of being late either for work, school or an appointment, then facing deadlines or unprepared schoolwork. Whatever it may be, we seem to be 'on guard' for the shoe to drop! Then it's back to home with perhaps arguments or unpleasant situations throughout the evening. Or on the computer. Or watching stressful news or movies filled with danger or killing. When bedtime arrives we expect to go to sleep. Is it any wonder that many of us have insomnia or some trouble sleeping? And so...we wake again to experience the same old, same old! And we wonder why we feel tired, unhealthy, achy and full of tension, ready to snap! This is Not a good thing.
The worst aspect of chronic stress is that people get used to it. They forget it's there. People are immediately aware of acute stress because it’s new. They ignore chronic stress because it’s old, familiar, and sometimes, almost comfortable.
Recently, we have heard of a very different kind of stress---Stress Cardiomyopathy
One day after actress Carrie Fisher's death at age 60, her mother, actress and singer Debbie Reynolds, died unexpectedly of unknown causes. Reynolds, 84, had complained of breathing problems, an unnamed sourced told the Los Angeles Times.
Stress cardiomyopathy, also referred to as the “broken heart syndrome,” is a condition in which intense emotional or physical stress can cause rapid and severe heart muscle weakness (cardiomyopathy). This condition can occur following a variety of emotional stressors such as grief (e.g. death of a loved one), fear, extreme anger, and surprise.
Medically, the exact cause of broken heart syndrome is unclear. It's thought that a surge of stress hormones, such as adrenaline, might damage the heart of some people.
Stress Tolerance: How much stress is too much?
Some people seem to be able to roll with life’s punches, while others tend to crumble in the face of small obstacles or frustrations. Some people even thrive on the excitement of a high-stress lifestyle.
- Karen is terrified of getting up in front of people to perform or speak, while her best friend, Nina, lives for the spotlight.
- Phil thrives under pressure and performs best when he has a tight deadline, while his co-worker, Matt shuts down when work demands escalate.
- Anita enjoys helping her elderly parents. Her sister, Constance, helps out as well but finds the demands of caretaking very stressful.
People who have good emotional health are aware of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They have learned healthy ways to cope with the stress and problems that are a normal part of everyday life. They feel good about themselves and have healthy relationships.
Remember the information given in the recent articles on “Emotions”… Your body responds to the way you think, feel and act.
“Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is. The only problem in your life is your mind's resistance to life as it unfolds.” --Dan Millman, author of Peaceful Warrior.