The New Stress
Today's stress is not your grandparents' stress, it's a new "breed". It's consistent, repetitive and often overlooked. It hits you relentlessly from all angles and it accumulates. You might recognize the initial symptoms like low energy, trouble focusing on tasks and a mind that "won't shut off". Sound familiar?
Most of these symptoms don't seem like anything too scary or abnormal. Think of how many times you've had low energy, forgetfulness, a wired mind, and fluctuating hunger. We experience these quite frequently and without thought, we reach for the quick fix.
How often is coffee the first thing we think about in the morning as we roll out of bed and drag ourselves to the kitchen? How about the 5 hour energy or red bull around mid-day for a little pick up? And after work...you wish for the opportunity to kick your feet up on the couch without interruption.
There are many stressors that we overlook. Many of which we engage in daily. You see our brain's act instinctively to real or perceived threats, setting off our fight or flight response over and over. This repeated stimulation from stressors leads to a cascade of reactions within the body eventually draining us of our energy. Here's a look at 5 stressors we underestimate in our daily lives:
- Technology- A study of 4,100 adults shows heavy use of technology increases stress. Today we use a cell, tablet, handheld games, and laptops daily. We're damn near "on call" or open to distraction, interruption, and intrusion 24-7
- Television- According to a recent study, observing stress can stimulate the stress response. That includes observing it on TV. The average American watches nearly 5 hours of TV per day, just over 34 hours per week according to a recent Nielsen report. Also, TV's have exploded in size and features becoming sensory overload for your nervous system with high volume commercials, flashing images and surround sound, 3D movies.
- Noise Pollution- Sound is so prevalent these days we find ourselves wondering where's the peace and quiet and searching for ways out of today's Decibel Hell. The old neighborhood walk now comes with an iPod pumping the hottest jams in our ears. The old weekend drive with the windows down is now interrupted by high traffic, loud stereo systems, and endless construction. And the old quiet coffee shop is no more. It's now filled with people's Bluetooth conversations about their latest work project dilemma.
- Job Expectations- There are many factors for stress in the workplace. Today's professional demands have not only risen, but they're also pass-fail now. (AKA produce or you're fired.) You're expected to have constant energy & measurable productivity with minimal downtime to refresh. Both the volume and magnitude of work have seemed to grow with a minimal increase in time, payment or recognition. (I just threw up in my mouth. Sorry, I remember those days. Not cool.)
- Food- our food quality has declined over the years (especially in the U.S.). The majority of people consume foods high in bad fats, sugars, processed ingredients, pesticides, and other chemicals all recognized as a type of poison (stress) to the body. Stress, eating crap on the go and decreased activity have to lead to nearly 70% of Americans being overweight or obese. We've become the fat, sick and the walking dead (no, I'm not a zombie fanatic.)
Add these consistent, repetitive, every day, multiple times a day stressors to the major stressors (career, money, and family) and you can understand how it takes a toll on your energy so quickly. You literally deal with layers and layers of stress including money stress, relationships stress, family stress, parenting stress, social stress and trying to clean the house while the kids and dogs make a mess stress nearly every day and it's time to do something about it.
Know you know the effects of hidden stressors. Take a moment to recognize just how often you use these and pay even more attention to your accumulative stress. If you feel consistent dips in energy, step back and analyze where you can make changes. Even the smallest changes can make a lasting impact in improving your energy levels more consistent.
Which accumulative stressor is slowing you down the most? Start or join the conversation by leaving a comment below.