Hierarchy of Stress




According to Lifetrack, stress is not a disease or the cause of suffering but a natural and inevitable consequence of the interaction between your personality and life's challenges. Stress signals that your ways of thinking, feeling and acting -- your personality -- is inadequate to handle the challenges you currently face. The symptoms of stress may persist and escalate until you are forced to pay attention. When faced with physical symptoms, you should first consult a physician to rule out physical illnesses. Next, take a close look at how you are choosing to live your life. Is there room for improvement in your sense of self? Close relationships? Work?

A Closer Look at the Hierarchy of Stress


At different stages in his life, Bruce has been plagued with waves of alternating symptoms. He has experienced anxiety, anger, physical symptoms, depression and psychosis -- the works. All these signals have the same mission: to force Bruce to reach out for help.

It is important to recognize that regardless of how bright, strong and resilient you may be, if the challenges you face are more than you can handle at one time, any of the five symptoms Bruce experienced may manifest. Which symptoms you experience depends on your innate characteristics, vulnerabilities, and earlier experiences of successful or unsuccessful coping.

1. Anxiety : : Anxiety can mobilize you to do what needs to get done. However, when you are constantly anxious, you may be getting a signal that something is wrong..

2. Anger : If you are forced to do what you feel is too difficult or uncomfortable, irritability and anger may join or replace anxiety. While anger can mobilize you to take action, when out of control it becomes counterproductive.

3. Physical Symptoms : If you are unwilling or unable to accept that you are under stress, physical symptoms may be the only way to force you to slow down. Even if you believe that your illness is psychologically induced, it is always important to seek medical advice.

4. Depression : A depressed mind shuts down, protecting itself much like a fuse designed to blow when overloaded. Depression usually forces people to reach out. Efforts to achieve "the impossible" are replaced by preoccupations with the distressful symptoms of depression.

5. Psychosis : When other distress signals such as depression are ignored or not tolerated, psychosis (or manic symptoms) may be triggered. Thoughts, feelings and actions become incoherent, confused, inappropriate, ambivalent or paralyzed. Medications are usually essential to control psychotic symptoms.

For more on how to deal effectively with stress in your daily life, see my special report, 'Overcoming Stress' (available from lifetrack.com).


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