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A Healthy Start

Jobs give us financial security, lessons in patience, opportunities to shine, opportunities to learn, and the vision to see hope for our future successes.  They are wonderful.  Whenever you start a new job position, the eustress you feel with it can be overwhelmingly uplifting.  You might find you have a pep in your step and feel like you’re living the dream.

Stress Slowly Creeps Up

As time goes on, however, as happens with most all of us, you start to feel the drudgery of going to the same job, day-in and day-out, and working when you just don’t feel like it.  As the days go on, you may even work when you’re sick, when you have rocky personal issues occurring, or when you are getting frustrated over workplace politics and bureaucracy.  With this type of feeling comes a slow yet sure build up of distress.

Eustress vs. Distress: What’s the difference?

Distress, unlike eustress, is a type of physical reaction your body has when you experience the fight-or-flight response that all humans have.  Unfortunately, human bodies have a tough time deciphering between physical threats and emotional threats.  This means that your body’s ability to handle the physiological reactions that happen when negative things occur, whether life threatening or not, is severely weakened and beaten down with each negative stressor that occurs.

This can sound terrifying, because many of us feel constant stress.  Even though this is scary, it’s important to not turn our heads and look the other direction in fear.  That will only cause more stress!  Cortisol, a chemical that releases into the bloodstream whenever a person experiences eustress or distress, can–when not reduced down to a normal, healthy level after being heightened–can cause serious damage to the body.

Cortisol levels usually subside to normal when a goal is achieved that is associated with the eustress response.  Cortisol levels, when heightened by distress, need an outlet to subside to normal, or otherwise, cortisol levels will remain elevated.  The Mayo Clinic, one of the most renowned and advanced medical institutions in the world, shares some of the side effects of heightened cortisol levels in various parts of the body:

  • “Common effects of stress on your body
    • “Headache
    • “Muscle tension or pain
    • “Chest pain
    • “Fatigue
    • “Change in sex drive
    • “Stomach upset
    • “Sleep problems

  • “Common effects of stress on your mood
    • “Anxiety
    • “Restlessness
    • “Lack of motivation or focus
    • “Feeling overwhelmed
    • “Irritability or anger
    • “Sadness or depression

  • “Common effects of stress on your behavior
    • “Overeating or undereating
    • “Angry outbursts
    • “Drug or alcohol abuse
    • “Tobacco use
    • “Social withdrawal
    • “Exercising less often”

Stress Management Practices Save the Day!

Thus far, this article may seem hard to handle, because stress can be so overwhelmingly negative for our bodies.  But, there is hope… truly!

In order to understand how to handle stress of any kind, it’s important to research how stress management can positively affect your life.  Can anyone get rid of stress entirely? No.  However, it can truly be one of the most beneficial endeavors you ever embark on, because the quality of your life depends on it!

So, to encourage you towards health and wellness in this area, I wish to point you back to the Mayo Clinic.  The Mayo Clinic has some great material on stress management that shares how to understand and grapple with stress, regardless of the cause or severity.