Do you wake early and stay up late?  Are you always worried, thinking and planning?  If maintaining your job, home and schedule has you in a serious stress circus and you're the clown, we can help!

We have the stress cycle broken into 3 major categories in order to help you identify the areas of your life that present the most stress.  These categories are social, personal and physical.  Once you identify the situations and people in your life that create stress in each category, we have solutions to help you overcome them.

Social

A serious threat to the average American continues to involve stress as a result of social expectations for standard achievements.  This means you live by the rule book of society that says you need a larger home, two cars, two incomes and two kids while still being attractive, funny and smart.  How you feel, the stress it induces and the tactics employed in order to keep up with the perception of social perfection is minimal and worth the sacrifice when you subscribe to this social expectation.

An article written by Rachel Nuwer at the Huffington Post, "Are You Addicted to Stress, Here's How to Tell" noted a survey by NPR and the Harvard School of Public Health in 2014 that found 63% of American's feel stressed out and 25% have a great deal of stress.  "Too many responsibilities" was credited as a primary source of stress for women and young adults.

The social component includes the expectations of yourself, family and peers.  These expectations are socially charged by the willingness to judge and be judged, based on looks, worth, power and intelligence.  Social influence on the average American creates challenges to consistently improve ourselves to achieve social acceptance. 

This means we find more worth in what others think of us rather than what we think of ourselves or feel.  We are less likely to understand the value of improving our inner self at the expense of these perceived social strengths, value and beauty.

It's not easy to realize how the misguided expectations affect our behavior, emotional tolerance and ability to live up to the life portrayed in the average social media profile and posts. The interest in acceptance of our peers begins to influence and quickly supersede the value of our own work-life balance, feelings and stress management.

Social media influencers 

The stress of such constant social judgement has only increased with social media as part of most American's everyday life.  According to www.statista.com, 79% of American's (244 million social network users) have a social media profile as of 2018.

While these profiles are the newest expression of how we communicate and interact with our social circle, they also include the consistent social analysis that contributes to the average person's need to "keep up with the Joneses".  

Simply put, people want to be liked, admired and accepted, daily.  Social media can seem like a make shift reality show starring you and your friends. There's a lot of the ideal aspects of how you live or want to be perceived, but it's not exactly who you really are as a person.  You know that about yourself, but your friends are mostly perceived by you via profiles, posts, tweets and pictures.  These are real people, not reality tv stars, so you regard these perceptions as realistic expectations for your own self and life. This demonstrates false perceptions of real life for societies and individuals.

Not only do you want to be socially relevant and interesting; but, you refer to their posts, videos and pictures for social guidance and life comparison.  A major problem is that constant comparisons can be draining and self-sabotaging.  You must be your own person, family and relationship without the scrutiny or acceptance of others based on their life, posts or profiles.  

It's perfectly fine to use social media as a pastime and a way to communicate with friends and family, but it's obvious that it can become a social guidance and value system that creates incredible stress for the average user.


Personal

Everyone counts on you because they know despite your unbelievably busy schedule, you are the person that will get their problem solved or task completed.  Usually everything you do will be in record time despite running late everywhere, at least by your standards.  You put the problem before your needs because problems have deadlines and your needs can wait.   

The major concern with putting problems first is that you are always staring problems in the face.  The minute one problem is returned to it's rightful owner, you find another.  You can't blame others for looking to you to deal with their issues because you, unfortunately thrive on it.  Like an engine that needs proper oil pressure, you think you need such pressure in your life in order to stay working at maximum potential. 

Avoidance

At the end of the day, stress can help you right out of a good night's sleep, a good diet and if you're really good friends, she can help you avoid exercise. Or, maybe you exercise too much, worry constantly about eating right and getting enough sleep.  Maybe you drink, complain or take something to cope with the stress you unknowingly crave.  Yes. stress is like a good friend, always there to keep the frenzy alive.  While it can lead to other addictions, stress can be addictive and an ironic useful means of avoidance. 

Often, the issues that you avoid are as important as those problems you solve everyday.  However, many of us have reasons why we choose to keep our attention everywhere but on them.  Often, the reasons may not be as clear to us as the "feeling" of avoidance we have when faced with an opportunity to give such issues our full attention.  These issues we avoid may include things like: health, relationships, money, addiction, etc.

Control

Personal issues involving stress may also originate in a quest to feel needed and accomplished.   If everyone's problems are in front of you, unexpected issues won't bother you, because you expect them.  If everyone's problems take over your life, you won't have to focus on your own.

You will feel like you have more control over your life and the impact of other's lives, decisions and problems on you.  The only problem here is that in your attempt to control "everything",  you fail to realize that everything eventually controls you.  At the very center of this personal sense of control is fear.


Physical

Like a junkie, you are a stress addict. The Huffington Post's article also notes this addiction involves hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline that are released in stressful situations.  Referred to as fight or flight, these hormones can have a seemingly positive influence on brain and muscle function while preventing adequate function to other non-essential areas. 

Once the invite goes out to these hormones, they become the toxic guest that never leaves.  Even after the stressful situation is over, the hormones continue to seep into your system.  The damage can include problems with your heart, hair, digestive system, weight management and skin.  As the damage wears on your body you may notice more belly fat, lethargy and overall feelings of "blah". 

According to Hormone Health Network, Cortisol, referred to as the "stress hormone" because it is released into your body during times of stress can lead to Cushing's Syndrome (high levels of Cortisol).  In addition to the other health problems listed above, this syndrome can induce: high blood pressure, flushed face, changes in women's libido and menstrual cycle.  It is also thought to be associated with anxiety and depression.

You may begin to crave the "perceived high" these hormones produce in times of stress as a way to combat your loss of concentration and increased fatigue they produced from the prolonged exposure.  It becomes a vicious stress cycle that is a major physical component of the stress addiction.


Solution  

The solution is to first acknowledge what parts of your life fit into each category in the cycle of stress.   You will consider your actions, emotional and physical reaction to these actions, the amount of tasks and duties you schedule and your social obligations.

Make yourself a priority

Keep your needs in front of you so that the problems are no longer top of mind.   Learn to say "no" to requests that have the potential to cause you problems.  When issues arise that require your attention make sure you set boundaries.  If the issue is too much for one person, don't be afraid to ask appropriate friend, family or team members for input or help.  When taking on extra tasks at work, let your boss or clients know that a "super" task is something you will manage but that in the future you will require more time or team members. 

Limit social media and texts

Social media is great, but with all good things there should be a limit.  Cut back your time on these sites and apps.  When you think to open the app, push it off for another hour or just check out social media at home instead of thru-out the work day.  Respond to texts at lunch or later in the day.  Let your friends know you may not always get right back to them during work hours.  Being available constantly is not an advantage, it's a vice.  

Work-out

Cardio, meditation and mindfulness are all ways to de-stress and clear your mind.  Speak with your family doctor about your concerns for stress and stress inducing hormones.  Ask for his/her recommendation for an exercise plan.  If you don't work-out at all, you might want to add some short walks at lunch and in the evening before getting right into a rigid work-out plan. 

Build up your endurance and try to walk outside.  The variety of areas you walk will add to the overall positive experience.  If things still get boring, change it up.  You can ask a friend to come along, try a yoga class or add music to your work-out.

Don't overcommit

You need to start setting limits.  Make it a routine to not answer requests for social or work commitments until you have had time to check your schedule.  Let the person know you will get back to them within a set period of time.  This will help with those who like to put you on the spot.  

Get rid of bad friends

If someone fails to respect you or your time they need to go.  Get rid of "friends" who steal your time with useless gossip or toxic conversation.  Avoid those who are continuously looking for your help due to their inefficiency.  If someone disrespects your request to call or text after your work hours, then do not answer or respond until those limited times.  Give others time to get used to your new way of doing things.  It's not uncommon for the "new you" to be considered a threat to their schedules and expectations.  Just keep it positive and forward thinking for both of you. 

Get confident.  People who look to you for help often unknowingly put you in a level of superiority in the relationship.  It's perfectly ok to use this authority when managing their tasks and/or letting them know when you are unwilling to do so.  When you feel confident, you speak with confidence and people are more likely to accept your decisions without push-back.      OurDMK.com


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