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?
A Closer Look at the Hierarchy of Stress
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
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
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
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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