This morning I was listening to a talk show and the psychiatrist mentioned that while most stress is circumstantial, the worrisome one is Extended Acute Stress.
Stress is our built-in response to danger, a surge in hormones as we choose between fighting, fleeing, or freezing. The danger may be real or imagined, immediate or farther away; our bodies don’t know the difference.
So while juggling a deadline, a sick child and a needy friend, you might have acute stress, including back pain or a headache but you calm down and get back on your feet.
On the other hand, if your body has repeatedly had to choose between fight, flight and freeze response and has often been bashed, it will highly likely go into extended acute stress.
The body has a built-in, physiological response to acute stress—the stress response. When a fearful or threatening event is perceived, the body engages an automatic response geared toward either confronting the threat, freezing up, or fleeing the threat (hence the term “fight-flight-freeze response”). The hallmarks of the acute stress response are an almost instantaneous surge in heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, breathing, and metabolism, and a tensing of muscles. Enhanced cardiac output and accelerated metabolism are essential to mobilizing for action. Psychologically, attention is concentrated on the threat. And if this happens constantly, you will develop an extended acute stress response. *
You will unconsciously become so focused on finding the threat in everything surrounding you, making it impossible to function on the daily.
If everything is a mini crisis and you are living in a constant state of anxiety and fear, then you have extended acute stress and down the road, your home and relationships are going to get affected.
So, back to the talk, she recommends self care! She emphasises time and again to give yourself space, care and respect.
“Stop carrying the burden of the entire family on your shoulders”, she explains, “there is just so much you can handle. Let go of those matters that don’t affect you DIRECTLY”.
In any home, in any relationship, opinions are bound to differ. Let it go. A difference of opinion is not a personal attack! Try to see the other or another perspective. Take a step back. Rationalise why it is not a threat!
While cognitive behavioural therapy is often needed for more complicated cases, loving your self and your surroundings is a wholesome, holistic approach.
Make time for personal care, work on personal goals, spend time with nature, in meditation and reflection. Make your home your haven away, from the chaos of the world.
Although the phrase is to treat others as you would like to be treated, I would rather say, treat yourself as you want others to treat you! Think about this… you can claim control on your mental health.