Written by Jane Goldner Tuesday, April 17 2012
Are you ready to pull up your chair and get another glass of wine? You’ll need it! (Although, I’m not suggesting that drinking is a great way to handle the stress of being everything to everybody.)
Trying to be everything to everybody creates stress (which I probably don’t need to remind you) and exacts a heavy price on our minds and bodies. So, what do we know about stress and its affect on our bodies?
There are three different types of stress: eustress, stress and distress. A formal definition of stress, according to Dr. Hans Selye, an Austrian endocrinologist and the father of the General Adaptation Syndrome, is: “…the nonspecific response of the body to any demand, whether it is caused by, or results in, pleasant or unpleasant conditions.”
Eustress is the “good” kind of stress; the stress that comes from planning a wedding, the birth of a child, moving to a new home or getting a promotion. It is a happy event that has a time-limited stress associated with it. It can be the type of stress that gets us in our “zone,” when we feel pumped. Stress is the everyday stressors that we encounter - waiting in traffic, standing in line at the checkout counter or concern for our children when they are out at night. Distress is the detrimental kind of stress that can wreak havoc on us. The body tends to respond differently. Dr. Selye, identified three stages of stress reaction: the Alarm Stage, the Resistance Stage and the Exhaustion Stage. The Alarm Stage is the one we hear most about. The body recognizes a challenge and goes into a “fight or flight” response. Our body pumps adrenaline and cortisol due to the stressful incident and, at that moment, we make a decision about how to react. Sometimes, we react appropriately and the stress is dealt with, while at other times we react inappropriately, and the stress remains.
At this point, we move into the Resistance Stage. This stage keeps us in a constant state of unrelieved stress, wearing down our immune system. We get sick with colds, high blood pressure, heart attacks and increasing symptoms of ill-health. If we continue to stress, we enter the Exhaustion Stage. The immune system is impaired, long-term damage and continued illness may result. Finally, continued stress in this stage, causes our organs to begin to shut down, resulting in death.
Dr. Selye indicated that we are all born with a certain amount of adaptive energy which should carry us through life. However, the more stress we adsorb, the more adaptive energy we use. When our adaptive energy is gone, we die. We have exhausted our bodies…a great case for overcoming the “everything to everybody syndrome.”
“Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older.” - Hans Selye
Do you want to be a little older? I don’t know many women who want to accelerate the process!
Okay, girlfriends, take a deep breath, maybe several. While all this sounds overwhelmingly ominous, I’m here to tell you that you can overcome the ‘everything to everybody syndrome’. I did it and so can you.
Now that you’ve decided not to help Mother Nature with the aging process, here are some short-term suggestions to start dealing with stress:
- First recognize your symptoms of stress. Mine show up in my stomach, and my family tells me that I speak in my “professorial voice.” Yours?
- Take five minutes to relax. Remove yourself from the stressful situation. Look out the window or take a walk. Research shows that even looking at pictures of trees relaxes us.
- Take three very deeps breaths. Research shows that deep breathing helps to quiet the mind and body.
- Remind yourself that you do not have to be perfect; you do not have all the answers. (Very hard for us perfectionists to do.)
- If you can’t do anything about the stressor, put it in perspective by asking yourself, “Will this matter when I am eighty?”
You’ll need to come back to your chair next time to learn the longer-term strategies. To ensure your return…These strategies came from successful senior-level women who were generous enough to share them for my new book, “Women Driven to Success: Everything to Everybody” to be published in the fall of this year.
Here are other stories about stress management:
In the first part of her series, Jane Goldner gives us a history of how the "Everything to Everybody Syndrome" began plaguing women.
Stress is transferrable - especially to your children. Find out how to break the cycle and keep your worries from affecting your kids.
A healthy diet and exercise can go a long way when it comes to your emotional well-being. ;Here are 6 apps for a healthier and happier you.
Jane S. Goldner, Ph.D. is a speaker, author, role integration coach and consultant. She brings 30 years of internal and external corporate experience as well as advanced degrees in counseling and human resource development to coach and counsel high-potential and women leaders. Jane’s first book, “Driven to Success: A 10-Point Checkup for Achieving High Performance in Business,” is a guide for business leaders to get everyone focused on achieving corporate objectives. Her upcoming book, "Women Driven to Success: Overcoming the Everything to Everybody Syndrome", provides women the understanding of how to integrate multiple roles without sacrificing their health, success, or peace of mind.
Goldner is offering a Women Driven to Success Public Workshop on May 1-2, 2102. Participation is limited. Womenetics subscribers are entitled to a discount. Enter code: Goldnerdiscount