“I like a little action in my life—without it I get bored. However, at times it can slip into being overwhelming. How do I know when my stress level’s unhealthy and I need to tone things down, and how go about managing the stress of an exciting life?”
You’ve noticed something that many people don’t realize: not all stress is bad for you–and we wouldn’t want to eliminate it all even if we could! (That’s why managing stress, rather than eliminating stress, is the goal here.) There are types of stress, such as eustress and acute stress, that are actually beneficial in keeping life interesting. This type of stress includes the thrill of a roller coaster or the excitement of planning a party. However, even this exciting stress adds can up and become negative if you get too much; if you don’t have time to recover from between one jolt of excitement and the next, your body’s stress response still gets to working overtime and takes a toll.
How can you tell when your stress level has become too much—before things are overwhelming? Symptoms are different for everyone, but some common signs that you’ve had too much excitement and need to slow down include:
- Impatience or Edginess
- Lack of Enjoyment
- Sleep Problems
If ignored, stress symptoms can get more serious and difficult to deal with. The tricky part of managing stress is that, when dealing with stressful events that are enjoyable—the ‘good’ stress—you may not always notice how stressed you feel until you experience the more serious stress symptoms, or until you feel overwhelmed. This tends to happen particularly often to people with ‘Type A’ personalities, overachievers, and self-described ‘adrenaline junkies’.
Because everyone’s early warning signals are different, it’s important to get in touch with your own response to stress overload, and pay attention so you can notice the toll that stress is taking so you can focus on managing stress before things get to be too much. A good way to stay connected with yourself and reduce stress at the same time is to maintain a daily journal, or practice regular meditation, both of which are excellent stress relievers that carry many other health benefits as well.