Stressed! How it impacts Your life and How to manage it!
Stress is a normal part of life. And a little bit of stress can actually be a good thing. For instance, when you lift weights, you are stressing your muscles, helping them to become bigger and stronger. In the same way, little bits of mental stress can create resilience and fortitude.
Stress becomes an issue when it becomes increasingly intense and then something tragic, threatening, or overwhelming happens. For example, someone gets diagnosed with an illness, dies, loses a job, has an accident or a million other situations which become “the last straw” so to speak. Then you move into panic mode, your heart and thoughts are racing, you are frantically searching for solutions, you perhaps begin using more alcohol, caffeine, sugar, or sleeping pills.
Most people experience shock when the above happens. Shock is a common part of life and everyone experiences it at some point in life. A majority of people are in shock on a daily basis. Shock may begin early in life and then build up as life’s stresses increase, or it may result from a sudden traumatic event.
How do you know if you’re dealing with shock? Shock is a physiological response we carry in the nervous system. There are two different types of shock that the body experiences. Sympathetic shock is what “work-a-holics” experience on a daily basis: people who scurry around, running from one task to another without being fully present for any of them. Many people like this run to the cupboard for sweets or carbs, or need a drink or to smoke pot to try to relax. Parasympathetic shock is the state of your nervous system when you feel exhausted, numb or depressed, and perhaps feel the need to self-medicate with energy drinks, food, alcohol, caffeine, smoking, sex, etc.
When the body’s nervous system gets seriously out of balance, we may use substances or behaviors to “medicate” the shock state in our body, unconsciously attempting to correct the imbalance. When the body begins to spiral toward anxiety with adrenaline (sympathetic shock), the body corrects by trying to slow down and calm down. When the body begins to spiral toward lethargy or depression (parasympathetic shock), the body corrects by trying to energize and ratchet up. At bedtime the system is exhausted from frantically going back and forth between sympathetic and parasympathetic shock all day. You may begin to be restless and have lost your natural ability to fall asleep. So you ask your doctor for sleeping pills, which are often the next form of medicating the shock. Sleeping aides are one of the most prescribed drugs in our society.
Can the stress from my job cause me to be in shock? Yes. There are many jobs that are connected with shock, typically those we refer to as first responders. This includes therapists, counselors, and medical personnel Many of these workers have to deal with intense and sometimes shocking events and are there to solve the problems of the victims. However, rarely does anyone treat these workers’ shock, the shock of the caregiver. There is a high rate of anxiety, addiction, overeating, substance abuse and depression among all first responders and therapists. These are all indications of living in shock states daily.
What can I do to reduce the amount of shock in my life? Begin to observe and determine:
- When am I in sympathetic shock?
- When am I in parasympathetic shock?
What are some first aids to reduce the levels of shock?
- Meditation, mindfulness practices
- Yoga, exercise, walking, sitting in nature
- Drinking water slowly
- Heat or ice packs on the neck, forehead, or belly
- Be fully in the moment by slow, deep breathing
- Get mental health treatment that can help heal this part of yourself like Hypnotherapy.