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Are You Overstressed?

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/18/2006 | Self Improvement
Have you been feeling extremely tired lately? Are your muscles sore and are you lacking energy for the activities you love? Do you or your mate seem moody, crying for no reason and unmotivated?

While we commonly complain of stress headaches, sore backs and a lack of sleep these can all be signs of overstress and can interfere with our quality of life and enjoyment. What can you do if you or a family member is overstressed?

WHAT MAKES YOU OVERSTRESSED?

The key to understanding overstress is not merely a list of sources of stress; it is how we are personally coping with these sources.

What would seem to be manageable stress to one person may be overstress to another. Some researchers suggest that our ability to handle life's stresses may have as much to do with our inherited tolerance as with our lifestyle. What is crucial though is identifying the symptoms of overstress and learning to adapt our lifestyle to reduce stress.

While we may all have different tolerances for stress it is also true that certain lifestyles or changes in lifestyle can lead to overstress - marriage, divorce, death of a loved one, job change, job loss or debts are all major stresses.

Other factors such as allergies, shift work, strained relationships and too much work are also stresses that in combination can add up to overstress.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I'M OVERSTRESSED?

While scientifically overstress leads to a series of chemical imbalances in our system, it is most easily recognized by the symptoms of these imbalances: fatigue due to lack of restful sleep, sore muscles due to a lower pain tolerance and a negative mood due to a lack of energy and 'feel good' chemicals in our system.

If you don't think that you've been feeling the physical effects of overstress perhaps you should look at your lifestyle. Are you handling fatigue with caffeine and sugar? Are alcohol or drugs helping you sleep or providing you a 'feel good' high? Are you relying on the adrenaline of working too much for the positive energy your body and mind needs?

HOW DO I HANDLE OVERSTRESS?

The first step in handling overstress is to recognize your tolerance. Since everyone has a different level only you can start reading your body's signals and responding to them.

Lessening your burdens by simplifying your life may just mean saying no to some extracurricular activities or may mean a complete change in occupation or lifestyle. If you are anticipating a large change in your life such as a new baby or moving to a new home, perhaps you need to remove other obligations to make room for these changes.

Exercising at least 20 minutes three times per week and reducing or eliminating crutches such as alcohol, caffeine, sugar or drugs will also help the body find balance.

We are living in a world that encourages highly driven, 'type-A' personalities. For the good or bad we are not all made equal and to lead the most contented life it is important to set limits for ourselves based on our personal abilities. Having a low tolerance for stress is no more a fault than needing glasses or being shorter than average - it does however require us to accommodate our tolerance and take on only as much as our bodies can adequately handle.

Learning our stress tolerance and responding accordingly can change our entire outlook on life. By regularly taking stock of your stress level and making the necessary changes you will find yourself enjoying life more than you thought possible.