Step 1: Awareness
Am I stressed?
Stress can manifest in multiple ways. At work you might notice performance changes (both positive and negative); in your relationships you may withdraw or become overly aggressive and confrontational; you may witness daily life being consumed by strong, unmanageable symptoms….the list goes on (HSE 2016).
Many signs of stress are part and parcel of modern life. However in order to understand what levels of stress are healthy (or motivational) and unhealthy (or destructive) we need to be aware of where we are at.
When we are stressed we move into our “fight or flight response” through the release of hormones, such as cortisol. This hormonal concoction is designed to limit our energy supplies to enable survival and nothing else. This can be helpful for short spurts of work, pushing us to meet deadlines and go that extra mile.
However the latest neuroscience research is now showing that prolonged exposure to cortisol, such as the drip drip effect of daily stress, can be more damaging than a shock trauma, causing damage to the brain, memory, executive functioning, motor skills and our immunity response.
It is therefore of fundamental importance to ask yourself: “Am I experiencing healthy and sustainable levels of stress?”
Simple expressions to yourself or others, such as “I am constantly wired” can be helpful indications to understand your current position.