Stress – What It’s Really Costing You

Posted April 17, 2013 by Career Girl Network in Life After Five
stressed gal in yellow

Wondering why your paycheck isn’t going up, your friends are avoiding you, and you keep getting sick? Stress could be the culprit.

I’m not a scientist, or a doctor. But I can confidently say that I know what it’s like to feel stressed. I survived on $10K for an entire year. I struggled through panic anxiety disorder that flared up when I moved to a different country. I lived out of a suitcase for 11 months, and didn’t know when or where I would end up. I’ve worked 100 hours a week, and then was jobless for months. I used to get sick for three months straight every winter. I’ve gone through my quarter life crisis (where I doubted who I am and what the hell I’m doing basically every second) and many more breakdowns.

Yup, I’ve been stressed. I’m guessing you have too. If you are like millions of American women you are probably stressed right now. Your story is probably different than mine, with different stressors, but on some level those feelings of panic, doubt, and worry are the same. Stress does not feel good, and it is costing you more than you might think.

Here are just a few ways your life is negatively affected by stress:

  • Your immune system is compromised – which means you’re stuck at home with saltines and soup or sniffling and coughing your way through the day.
  • Your paycheck isn’t going up – loss of focus, poor judgment, and loss of memory don’t allow you to move up the ranks at work or in your business.
  • Your love life suffers – lack of sex drive, moodiness, and irritability aren’t making you the most desirable lover.
  • Your relationships  – people who are high strung, toxic, and “negative Nancys” aren’t best friend potential, and you aren’t either when you’re stressed.

On a physical level your stress response is a complex process. Here’s a very brief refresher on how it works: Your body experiences a stimulus or condition that it recognizes as a stressor. Once your system recognizes a potential threat or challenge, it triggers your fight or flight response. Quite literally your body goes into survival mode (click here to read more on surviving vs. thriving), which in the short term is very beneficial in keeping you safe and alive. The central nervous system activates particular parts of your brain (hypothalamus, amygdala, and hippocampus) and your body begins to produce adrenaline, cortisol, and other hormones to help you react to the state of alarm. Your body is pumped up to temporarily get away from potential harm, or fight against it.

The problem is we typically aren’t running away from bears, or fending off neighboring tribes from stealing our crops any more. Yet, our survival response is in action a lot. It riles you up when you’re stuck in traffic or packed in like a sardine on the train. When your iPhone doesn’t work for three minutes and you can’t send emails or open pictures of cats, it kicks in. If you didn’t get your project done on time, or didn’t make it to the hot new bakery before they ran out of your favorite maple glazed donut. All of these little things now trigger our fight or flight response… and it ain’t pretty.

The flight has become a self-numbing of sorts. We “get away” by avoiding the problems with food, alcohol, and hours of bad TV. We emotionally disconnect from those around us, and stop taking care of our bodies. Watching re-runs of Dawson’s Creek in unwashed sweatpants with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s is not uncommon.

The fight has turned some of us into reactive, rude, and bitchy types at best types. We pick a fight with anyone and everyone. We blame other people for our problems. We beat ourselves up and become our own worst enemy. Overly critical and constantly judgmental, we struggle through our days with little happiness or peace. Everything becomes a challenge or struggle.

Stress has a very profound effect on how you show up in the world, so much so that you become a completely different person energetically. Imagine going about your day with a loud buzzing in your ears… super annoying. That sound would start to drown out a lot of other things, and disable you from fully concentrating or being fully engaged in anything else. Stress does exactly that. In that state it is so hard to be our best.

We stop being ourselves. That is the scariest part. For weeks, or years, we lose who we are and instead become these strange stressed out versions of ourselves. Over time we forget who we are: happy healthy people capable of living a fun and fulfilled life. I can tell you, it’s not a good feeling to wake up and realize you are not proud of the way you’ve been behaving. Instead of focusing on the goals we want to achieve, we merely get through the days. Rather than dream about the adventurous traveling we’ll do, we feel stuck and limited by the lives we live. We trade living out our purpose for living out our stress.

We’ve become so accustomed to living with stress, that we think its necessary to feel this much pressure, worry, and doubt. We start to sink into it, and just accept it as our fate. We begin to believe that just because we see others around us in a similar state, that it’s okay.

Wake up call: You are not living up to your potential, making a positive impact, or being yourself when you are stressed.

The good news – you have the power and opportunity to change this pattern whenever you want! Stressors will always be present in our lives, start by acknowledging that. Unless you are going to become a monk and live in a cave meditating for 10 years, things will push your buttons and trigger your stress response. You can’t just pretend the stress is not there, because it is. Once you accept that, you can begin to ease, reduce, and live above stress.

Stress could be costing you your health, success, fulfillment, and happiness. Are you going to let it?

Reclaim your life and start existing above the grip of stress. Join me for this free 7 Day Stress Cleanse to break free from the stress, doubt, and worry. You’ll be given the tools to manage stress, new ways to look at how stress is showing up in your life and inspiration to take daily action to thrive. Sign up today, you deserve this.

About the Author

Career Girl Network

Career Girl Network’s mission is to provide for women clear paths to career success and a large network of women to nurture, mentor, and support their goals. Part online media platform and part social enterprise start-up, Career Girl Network brings together women who want to become empowered in their own careers and discover opportunities to reach out and encourage the empowerment of others.