You know that stress damages the immune system but did you know that stress acts as your own natural early warning system to protect your health?
When I coach people with physical health problems it often turns out that they’ve had them for years, starting small but then intensifying. That’s things like chronic fatigue, depression and impotence.
As we track back we can see just how this early warning system of stress had been trying to make itself be heard. Stress is meant to be a temporary response intended to make us take some action. But we tend to force it into staying long-term by burying it, ignoring it and leaving it to fester.
Stress is a chemical imbalance that has
physiological roots and an emotional voice.
Look out for these warning signs that your stress levels are approaching the danger zone and your body is desperate for you to take notice.
1) Blaming Other People
You may not realise that you blame other people. However, nothing is ever your fault. And on the odd occassion where you may have had something to do with it, you know deep down that if it hadn’t been for him or her, it wouldn’t have happened anyway. So basically… it wasn’t your fault.
Blaming others is easy and a false way of making ourselves feel valid. When we accept our part of the responsibility, we see things from a position of empowerment. Taking ownership and responsibility for the outcomes in your life is one of the greatest accomplishments in your personal development. What unhelpful beliefs are you holding onto that are causing blame to be your first response?
2) On Replay
There are certain events or people that you cannot stop thinking about. They cast a shadow over your life and keep you from moving forward happily. Sometimes you think you are over it, but the thoughts come back with the same level of intensity.
Our life moves towards the future. A healthy future contains things we have learnt from our experiences. When we remain stuck in grief and helplessness, we’re crippled in some way from moving forward because there’s still unfinished business back there. Being stuck on replay puts clouds on our horizons and diffuses our energy levels.
3) No-Go Areas In Your Mind
There are certain events or people that you refuse to think about. You tip-toe around these thoughts, avoiding related people and places. You don’t think of these things much and don’t consider them a problem – but when you do think of them, you feel sadness, anger, guilt or regret – even though out loud, you may trivialise their impact.
Your mind is the playground of your life. It’s a place for you to explore, learn, dream, imagine, plan and enjoy. When certain parts of it are blocked off it creates a break in the flow of your thoughts. It distorts how you see yourself and it places conflicts and boundaries within your beliefs.
A no-go area signifies there is something you still need to learn from the event. It’s more unfinished business. Grief and forgiveness are the processes that help you learn from the past and take away the stressful sting of whatever happened.
We need a sense of purpose to our life. Without it, we feel empty and useless. When you spend a substantial part of your life feeling chronically bored, your motivation to look after yourself plummets and you develop bad habits and negative behaviours. Boredom causes a chemical imbalance too, releasing hormones that put the heart under stress. The feeling of being without purpose can also lead to depression.
Note that I’m talking about “purposeless boredom”, not the “teenage boredom” that can happen at any age and is useful in giving us a mental time-out and inspires the energy for activity.
Because you are a vibrant, energy-filled human-being, boredom goes against everything you stand and yearn for – yet is an easy trap to fall into when it becomes the path of least resistance due to the limited choices you feel you have in your life.
5) Life Patterns
The life patterns that follow you around provide clues as to the stress you are holding. Such patterns could be:
- Every boss you’ve ever had has been a bad one
- You’ve had four serious relationships in the space of ten years – all of which ended bitterly
- You procrastinate over everything
- You’re always surrounded by idiots or by people who don’t understand you
- You can’t make decisions on your own
What life patterns come up for you again and again? What could they be telling you?
Recognising these warning signs and taking action on them can prevent critical stress levels from hurting your health.
How do you recognise signs of stress in your life?