Big Stressors

In this session we will tell you about major sources of stress

If you’re like the majority of people with chronic stress or burnout, you likely have one or more Big Stressors in your life. A Big Stressor is a specific and almost daily source of stress, worry or frustration.

Before we look at what you have to do with these Big Stressors, we first need to talk about STRESS.

When we’re exposed to danger, such as crossing paths with a lion, our fight-or-flight-response is activated.

Within half a second, your body activates all sorts of systems to help you to survive. Systems that make us ready to fight the lion or run away as fast as we can. The body raises our blood pressure, tenses our muscles and sets countless other systems, in motion.

At the same time, our body immediately gives less priority to the systems that are unimportant upon the moment that we come across the lion. Our metabolism slows down for example, and it can cause our immune system to be turned down as well.

Fortunately, we don’t come across many lions in the modern world. But there are sometimes situations where our fight or flight response is activated in the exact same way.

If there is one situation where that happens almost daily, for a long period of time, we call it a Big Stressor. And the majority of people suffering from chronic stress or burnout have one or more of these in their lives.

A Big Stressor could be anything. For some people, it’s a bad work situation: an annoying boss, unkind colleagues or maybe the fact that they can’t find a job.

But it could also be a homelife situation, something to do with your spouse, a family member, your children, your house or your financial situation.

For others, it could be internal issues, such as trauma, mourning, identity problems or body image issues.

This Big Stressor has become a source of stress, because it exhausts you. Your body will see the situation as dangerous and, by constantly fighting with that danger, will slowly but surely, drain your energy reserve.

This happens until one day, you climb back into that lion’s cage, ready to fight again, and your body responds. By clearly telling you that it can no longer fight.

You’ll often notice this as a clear physical signal in the form of anxiety, panic or pain.

Your body literally blocks what you’re doing and says with everything that it can, that you have to get away: away from the danger.

At around this moment, most people realize that something’s going on, and it won’t be much later that it’ll become clear that they have chronic stress or burnout. This is the moment there’s only one thing left to do: and that is to start your recovery.

But this is where a problem arises. See, your body can only begin recovery when it feels safe. And it understands it no longer needs to fight against powers much larger than itself.

And another problem is that a Big Stressor uses up so much energy that it’s incredibly difficult to get yourself into a positive energy balance, which is one of the requirements for recovery, as you know by now.

The solution to both is to temporarily distance yourself from the Big Stressor, in order to give your body the chance to activate the healing process.

Before we learn how we do that, I’d like you to take some time to write down what your Big Stressor is.

I see you in the next session.

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