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  • Why You’re More Stressed Out Than You Think.

    Everyone has stress; there’s no getting around it. Some have more than others, to be sure, stressed outbut we all have it. I’d even venture a wager that most of us have more stress than would be considered healthy. I’ll go even farther and say that most people probably don’t have a truly accurate read on just how much stress they actually have.

    I base my assertion on two things:

    1. The number of massage clients who tell me that they’re not very stressed, are pretty laid back, or are easy going yet feel like they have concrete in their neck and shoulders.
    2. The fact that the human body acclimates to things it encounters all the time. One simple way to explain this is to think of a person who’s moved from a cold or temperate climate to a hot one. Over time, they get used to the heat and feel comfortable in it. They often get to the point where they get cold if they go back to visit the area they came from.

    The body is designed to respond to stress for only 15-30 minutes at a time. Most people, however, are stressed for the better part of every day.  Over time, we begin to feel as if this state of stress is normal because we’ve gotten used to it. Mistakenly, we believe that we’ve mastered our stressors because we don’t feel as stressed as we used to. Meanwhile, our bodies are still sounding the alarms and pumping out stress hormones like there’s no tomorrow.

    How do we miss the alarm bells? Well, we’re so used to the buzzers sounding and the red lights flashing that we don’t notice them anymore. In the real world it looks something like this: I do massage once a week at a business near the airport; when I’m there, I hear every plane that takes off or lands nearby, but the folks who work there don’t even hear them anymore. You can get used to anything if you’re exposed to it often enough.

    Our acclimation to stress helps us, at least in the short term, to better deal with the almost constant stress of daily life without cracking up. I’m not so sure that’s such a good thing in the long run, though. It gives us a false sense of having successfully dealt with our stress when all we’ve really done is gotten used to it.

    So what’s your stress level on a scale of 0 (no stress) -10 (stressed to the max)? Feel free to use last week’s post on the real life effects of stress as a guide.