Life Is a Stressful Business. How Is It Affecting You?

stress work life balance Jun 07, 2018

I first drafted this post at the beginning of the year. The weather was cold, wet and miserable.

I suffer a little from seasonal affective disorder, that condition of feeling blue and down due to the lack of sunlight and bright days. I find it takes the edge off my normally happy disposition and air of positivity that I generally have.

I'm not alone in this either. According to psychiatrist Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz:

It's been shown pretty clearly that as daylight decreases, starting in the fall, people will have more feelings of depression and anxiety. If they are feeling depression and anxiety they will report stress.

My wife and I are lucky. We work doing what we love and have the added benefit of running our own business and managing our own diaries to fit in with the needs of family and how we want to balance our lives.

But it hasn't always been like that.

There have been times when we've been extremely stressed out. Juggling a career, bringing up four children, and for me personally managing the expectations that I felt I needed to live up to, placed upon me by others. There stories of what my life should look like not mine!

These have all in the past meant I've paid a heavy price.

And in particular, when Cheryl was much younger and eager to impress at university and her first design job in fashion, she suffered from an acute period of burnout stretching herself to achieve as much as she could. Top that with her known gravitas toward perfectionism and she was a stress disaster waiting to happen.

Time to Take Stock of Your Life

It's at times like those when we need to take stock and ask ourselves how has my life gotten out of balance? Why am I so stressed? Is all this effort really worth it? Is it time to recalibrate my life?

Taking stock means first taking the step back and assessing your life overall. Assessing each theme of your life (relationships, work, finances etc) and asking yourself the question "Am I happy with this part of my life?"

It's only by answering such questions will we ever be able to objectively take stock of the way our lives are evolving, otherwise we'll end up like that poor creature in the boiling frog syndrome.

I'll share with you in a minute or two a tool you can use to help assess your life and what to do about what you find (or you can skip to the end of the post). But first I wanted to share some points about stress in general.

OK? Good.

Some Stress is a Natural Part of Life

We all live in a world of stress. It's natural and there's very little we can do to eradicate it completely from our lives. 

What matters most is how we handle it. The best thing we can do to prevent stress overload and the health consequences that come with it is to know our personal stress symptoms.

By recognizing our symptoms we can then take action to do something about it.

Signs of Damaging Stress Levels in Your Life

Stress impacts us emotionally, physically, cognitively and behaviorally. I've listed below the typical range of symptoms that are related to stress.

Please don't wait until you have all of these before you take action!

Scan them and see how many you recognize in yourself or in someone you know.

Emotional Symptoms of stress include:

  • Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody.
  • Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control.
  • Having difficulty relaxing and quietening your mind.
  • Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed.
  • Avoiding others.

Physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Low energy levels.
  • Headaches.
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea.
  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles.
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat.
  • Insomnia.
  • Frequent colds and infections.
  • Loss of sexual drive and/or ability.
  • Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet.
  • Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing.
  • Clenched jaw and grinding teeth.

Cognitive symptoms of stress include:

  • Constant worrying.
  • Racing thoughts.
  • Forgetfulness and disorganization.
  • Inability to focus.
  • Poor judgment.
  • Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side.

Behavioral symptoms of stress include:

  • Changes in appetite -- either not eating or eating too much.
  • Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities.
  • Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes.
  • Exhibiting more nervous behaviors, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing.

Stress in Your Field of Work and What to Do About It

Some careers are more prone to stress than other fields. rates jobs based upon 11 factors that enable roles to be assessed for their stressfulness. No surprise that enlisted military personnel have the most stressful job. But third on their annual review list are airline pilots!

Wherever you work, you'll know how stressful aspects of your role can be and the impact it can have on your physical and mental health, relationships and overall satisfaction and happiness with life.

15 Simple Stress-Busting Tips

  1. Focus on what’s important and ruthlessly prioritize.  Get rid of the stuff that really doesn't matter.
  2. Share the load by delegating where you can. Don't do work that others should be doing. Delegate. When you can't delegate, ask for help or eliminate the need for the task.
  3. Get more organized. Stress can lead to becoming disorganised so make sure you put organization into your routine and organise your day including paperwork, admin etc.
  4. Set short-term goals you can reach and then celebrate success when you reach them.
  5. Be assertive and say no to further obligations and commitments. This will create space in your life and take some of the pressure off.
  6. Focus on the positive. Always look for the good in situations, others and yourself.
  7. Laugh and smile with others. If necessary watch a funny video clip on YouTube or instead of getting further bad news form your news network, tune into a comedy show for some mood boosting.
  8. Listen to music that energises you and lifts your mood.
  9. Talk to a counselor or a friend.
  10. Don't look for perfectionism. Things don't have to be perfect, “good enough” is often fine enough.
  11. Take a time-out for yoga, meditation, or mindfulness.
  12. Get regular exercise. Find something you like doing that you can work into your schedule.
  13. Set aside some time, even 5 to 10 minutes, for yourself each day.
  14. Leave for work 10 - 15 minutes earlier so you have a chance to get set up before the day starts, phones start ringing and so on.
  15. Learn to manage conflict well.

How Balanced is Your Work / Life?

OK, I promised a simple tool you can use to assess the themes in your life. Using a Wheel of Life is a very useful technique for helping you consider each area of your life in turn and to assess what's off balance. It gives you the chance to figure out where you need to pay more attention to.

Like the boiling frog who found herself being cooked alive because she was unaware of the rising water temperature, it's easy for us to have lives that evolve and before we know it we're paying too much attention in some areas (too often work) and neglecting others areas to their detriment. We end up missing out on dream opportunities or fulfilling our full potential or even enjoying our lives at all because we lost sight of what's really important to us.

Here's your chance to carry out your own wheel of life assessment and get a free coaching session. Simply follow this link for further details and to access a copy of our FREE wheel of life tool that you can use immediately. It comes with easy to follow instructions and can be used over and over again.



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