Stress involves so much more than running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off and/or feeling pulled in a hundred (or more) directions at once. Sometimes it’s blatant, sometimes it’s subtle, and sometimes it’s so habitual that it just seems normal to you. It’s that habitual stress that doesn’t register on your mental radar that you have to look out for, because it still sends your body into “red alert” mode without you being aware of it.
I’ve spoken to a lot of people (and by a lot I mean easily hundreds and hundreds) who swear that they have very little stress. Some of them have been clients with really tight muscles and some have been people I’ve met at business events or parties who, upon finding out that I’m a massage therapist, insist that they don’t have much stress yet their shoulders are halfway to their ears.
I can’t blame them for not recognizing some of their stress; I used to be right where they are now. For years, I swore up, down, and sideways that I didn’t have very much stress and I meant it. I had lots of responsibilities, sure… but not so much stress. Turns out, I did have stress. I had a LOT of stress. So much stress that it landed me in the ER. Still, however, I refused to believe that any of my physical issues were due to stress. Sadly, I may have even went off on a doctor or two when they suggested that some of my physical ills were stress-related. I recall telling one of them that “stress” was a garbage diagnosis that doctors used when they didn’t know what was wrong. I’d like to apologize to all the docs that I was horrible to in those days. I didn’t know… Please forgive me for being an a-hole.
To help you recognize some of your habitual stressors, to keep your stressors from making you physically ill, and to keep you from being an a-hole to anyone who suggests you may be suffering from stress, I’ve got a list of what habitual stressors might look like:
Remember, this list contains several examples but is not meant to be complete. There are many, many other types of habitual stressors. This list is only meant to get you thinking about what they might be for you.
One of my problems, back in my stress-denying days, was that I was running on autopilot most of the time. I also had this strange notion that responsibilities somehow weren’t stressors and that hating school and hating your job was just par for the course so they couldn’t be stress. There was so much I didn’t know back then.
So, in an effort to help you recognize some of the lessor known and less talked about symptoms of stress, here’s a short list of some common ones to get you started:
Remember, this is just a short list of possible ways that habitual stress can manifest itself in your life. It can show itself in as many ways as there are stressed out people. This list should give you a good jumping off point to help find your symptoms of the habitual stressors in your life.
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