Maybe you work over lunch, in the evenings, and on weekends. Or you’re glued to the internet every evening until bedtime. Perhaps you never part from your Iphone, Blackberry or other electronic devices. Some people even conduct wild sleep experiments in an attempt to capture more time. Then there’s the proud multitasker. Is that you?
A small brood may be keeping you on your toes 24/7. Maybe you squeeze in work during their naps, school hours, or after their bedtime, stealing from your own precious Z’s.
This may seem all well and good in the moment, but chronic over-stimulation leads to physiological over-arousal—stress!—and the release of adrenaline and cortisol in the body. In our times, it’s not uncommon for people to have a continuous elevation of cortisol in their bloodstream due to a busy, pressured, high performance, noisy, information-flooded lifestyle.
According to Wikipedia, just “commuting increases cortisol levels, related to the length of the trip, the amount of effort involved and the predictability of the trip.” Over-stimulation is endemic in our culture. The energized state that initially occurs when aroused can even become addictive.
The inevitable results
When you are healthy and strong, it’s easy to shrug off the extra work, stress, and commitments in the hopes of getting ahead, building a business, saving the world, or socking money away for retirement. However, it’s dangerously naive to dwell in this bravado. I am telling you this heart-to-heart as someone who innocently worked like a dog and then was taken aback when the highly predictable results occurred.
Constant stress and stimulation, physical and psychological, more often than not leads to serious health problems. Excess cortisol coursing through your system can interfere with digestion, suppress the immune system, tighten muscles, and increase blood pressure. It can make it difficult to fall asleep, wake you up the night or too early in the morning. Chronic over-arousal can make you more prone to anxiety and depression because it can actually rewire your brain. Many health problems are caused or exacerbated by stress including chronic pain, autoimmune conditions, skin disorders, heart disease, digestive distress, chronic fatigue, and others.
In short, continuous stress can cause widespread damage to your body, have a deleterious affect on your mood and mental health, reduce your productivity, impact your relationships adversely, and diminish your joy de vivre.
Isn’t it ironic that when illness does finally emerge, we are taken by surprise as if it came of the blue? Usually, it’s simply the accumulation of years of crazed living.
For the sake of your future health, please let all this sink in—unrelenting stress is harmful to you. While some people can handle it on the short run better than others, adverse long term effects are predictable. People who are already ill or the 1 in 5 who are highly sensitive, need to take even more precautions.
There are many people in the world who work too hard because they don’t have a choice and suffer consequent illness because of it. Sadly, many of those who do have a choice, don’t always realize the potential ill-effects of their stress-driven lifestyle.
Take a look at your life
I am not going to launch into 100-point list of stress reduction tips to further add to your plate. My approach is usually to focus on the power of one, anyway. Today, I just want to beseech you to please take a moment to look at your life and honestly see if stress, pressure, and chronic over-stimulation are overarching issues for you.
If so, please don’t be innocent like me. My advice is to be a brazen non-careerist!
Take a moment to look. Then start with just one simple, achievable change to release a bit of air from the tight balloon before it suddenly pops. When you have that one well under your belt, move on to another. Take it easy, don’t stress, but please do take it seriously.
Have you managed to jump off the roller coaster of stress?
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