Negative stressors pop into our lives day in and day out. Those stressors can have a negative impact on our mind and body, but more specifically the nervous system. When our nervous system becomes overloaded with too much stress, negative side effects can start to pile up. This can affect our physical/mental health, relationships, school/work life, or performance levels.
Instant Activity Instructions: For the next 30 seconds, give yourself time to think about every stressor going on in your life and write them down. While you do you that, I will too.
....Time is up!
As the stressors pile up, we can become more and more over-sensitized emotionally. In this scenario, things that didn’t bother us before now seem like huge issues. I think it’s safe to say we have all been there before. Perhaps you have found yourself in one of the following situations:
If we are being honest here, I am definitely guilty of #3. Sorry, Jenna ;) And #2. Alright fine, and #1. Sorry, Zach.
To better illustrate the effect of psychological stressors on the nervous system, think of your nervous system as a cup. Now let’s pour something into that cup – how’s water? The water going into that cup will take on the role of every day stressors.
This cup can only handle so much water, just like your nervous system can only handle so much stress. When we pour too much water into the cup, it over-flows. Comparatively speaking, when we hit our tipping point with the amount of daily stress, the nervous system can go into a lock-down mode, otherwise described as a protective state/sympathetic state. As the cup overflows, the water has no choice but to go where it shouldn’t and begins to make a mess or damage things nearby just as the abundance of stress affecting the nervous system prevents the body from functioning at optimal levels.
Combine the psychological stress with the physical demands of our jobs, workouts, or duties at home and that cup of water might as well be a water fall. But, we don’t stop pushing in our daily, stressful routines. Rarely do we hit the brakes and just breath for a little while. Instead, we keep those physical stressors coming like there’s no tomorrow:
Or, how about these scenarios? With the nervous system already in a protective/sympathetic state from previous stressors, you add another meeting to the end of a work day. You are limited on time so you skip your warm up at the gym and try to max out in a few lifts that didn't quite feel so great on the knees just a week before....
Pop. There goes the back.
The sympathetic nervous system did exactly what it was supposed to do and kept the body in a highly protective state. But, we didn’t listen to our inner voice telling us we are too stressed or needed a break. We also failed to pay attention to the physical signs leading to this moment of discomfort.
Regardless of the situation, there’s no way we can avoid all psychological and physiological stressors, but I encourage you to be an advocate for yourself. Raise your self-awareness and take mental notes (I encourage you to actually write them down) of things that will trigger a stress response in the body. I am not asking you to eliminate all tough workouts, late-night work sessions, or long days of driving, but what I am recommending is that you start to listen to your body.
Some of you do a fantastic job with this and for those of you who do, I challenge you to improve even more. You only get one body, you might as well understand what will negatively impact it so you can start living more optimally. But don’t over think it - start small, jot some notes down when they pop up, develop a plan of attack to eliminate it, and most importantly, make sure to stick with it!
Until next time, #PremierFamily!
About the Author
Evan Lewis is a nationwide leader in Neuro Therapy and founded the Baltimore area's only specialist Neuro Therapy facility for people who want to stay active into their 40s, 50s, and beyond.
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