I would like you to imagine in your mind a set of scales…
You are going to need some industrial scales here… so stick with me…
Now, I would like you to place onto these scales a large basket.
Stress comes in many forms and is not just the mental and emotional stress you and I know so well.
There’re physical stressors such as lack of sleep, hard labour, too much exercise and injury to name but a few.
There’re mental and emotional stressors like conflict at home or work, a dead-end job, workplace bullying, childhood traumas and maybe just taking too much on.
How about social stressors? A non-existent social life, lack of close confidants in your life, peer pressure, or unfair treatment
What about spiritual stressors? That’s an interesting one! No, I’m not talking about a blocked chakra… how about a lack of meaning and purpose in your life? Or maybe a diagnosis of cancer for you, or a loved one… Why me?
Financial stressors – do I really need to explain this one? The mortgage we are struggling to pay, not being paid what we are worth, a tax debt…
Familial or relational stressors – put your hand up if your family creates stress for you? It could be conflict in a relationship, a “troublesome” child, or differing values.
And finally, vocational or career stressors. What have you experienced in your career? Maybe, not being considered for a position or promotion when you know you are the right person for the job, unrealistic deadlines, too much responsibility and not enough hours in the day, or maybe it’s a toxic culture in your organisation?
The point I’m trying to make is there are many types of stressors the modern human faces. Above is only a very slim selection. Your physiology AND your psychology will not discriminate between any of them. From an evolutionary psychological point of view, they are all “Toothy the Tiger” in disguise and the same stress response is prompted from the body.
So now we are dwelling on our stresses, place each one into that basket that sits there patiently waiting for us to pay it some attention. One by one pop your stresses in there…
What does it weigh?
Are you fully giving yourself credit for the amount of stress your body and mind are holding?
This “weight” in medicine is called your “allostatic load”. It’s the lump sum burden of all your stressors and the wear and tear it’s having on your body and mind – your health.
In a previous post I explored the process of allostasis – our ability to bring our stress response back down to baseline – to homeostasis. Our “allostatic skillset” that cultivates a wider window of tolerance, that builds our resilience, in combination with actively taking steps to decrease the burden of stress in our life is the way we protect ourselves from the toxic nature that chronic persistent stress possesses.
Are you ready to master your nervous system and become a “Allostatic Ninja”?