What sorts of things create tension in your life? When does that tension tip over the edge and become stress?
We hear a lot about stress today and how it impacts our health in a negative way, which it definitely does. An excess of ongoing mental stress affects your physical as well as your emotional well-being.
Stress causes the body to produce an excess amount of adrenaline, but often with nowhere for that adrenaline to go. It doesn’t get burned up by the physical activity of fighting or fleeing, which is the primal instinct that gives rise to it. In the end either our body or our mind will fail us, forcing us to take a break and hopefully to look after ourselves a bit better.
A certain level of tension though is actually good for you. You could say that it creates a productive level of adrenalin. This in turn can help you perform at optimum level. You become excited and/or a bit anxious about getting that work done on time, giving a good presentation and preparing as well as you can for that all important event.
At what point then does healthy and productive tension become unhealthy and unproductive? Perhaps more importantly, what can you do to prevent that from happening?
It comes down to self awareness and self management. In simple terms, the tipping point is reached when both the level of tension and the length of time it continues for become too great for your system to manage. That tipping point can be different for all of us, partly due to how well we look after our emotional and physical wellbeing.
You will no doubt have had periods or phases in your life when you have a lot going on, such as starting a new job, getting married and moving house all at the same time. Or you might be upgrading your business, moving to new premises and supporting elderly relatives, again all at the same time.
What’s important is to recognise that however exciting some of these things are, they are still causes of tension and therefore potentially of stress.
Equally important therefore is to know what sorts of things relieve and ease your tension or stress. Again, possibly different for everyone. You might find that physical activity, meditation or watching TV work for you.
When you know that there are some tensions going on make sure that you make time for some of those things. 5 – 10 minutes a day can make a big difference. However busy you are, take time to ‘break state’, i.e. come away from whatever is creating the tension. Making yourself focus on something else will actually make you more productive when you come back to the stressful task, however contrary that might seem.
Bear in mind what happens to an elastic band or a balloon when the tension becomes too much.
Knowing your optimum point for performance can stop that happening for you.
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