What is Stress?
Stress is a natural human experience that occurs as a result of a threat, challenge or change in one’s environment. Reacting to stress is instinctual, designed to aid men and women in their ability to deal with life’s challenges. In today’s world, we often find it necessary to deal with emotional threats such as arguments with co-workers and family, working long hours and attempting to “do it all.” Repeatedly invoking the stress response, while not using healthy stress management practices, contributes to, and can result in, cumulative stress.
What is Cumulative Stress?
Cumulative stress is often subtle. It is a result of experiencing prolonged exposure to a variety of work and non-work stressors. It is often referred to as “burn out.” Signs of cumulative stress include fatigue, increased illness, frequent headaches, sleep difficulty and appetite changes. Emotionally, one may experience anxiety, frustration, mood swings, irritability, depression, over-reaction to minor events and problems in work and personal relationships. Mental signs are forgetfulness, carelessness, decreased job performance and feeling unable to manage work and home responsibilities. Behaviorally, one may isolate themselves, increase the use of alcohol or other drugs and act with a cynical or negative attitude.
Ways to Manage Cumulative Stress
If you are experiencing signs of cumulative stress or find you cannot reduce your symptoms of stress, you may need additional help. Consider talking with a counselor or consulting your family doctor. Seeking professional assistance can provide additional stress management techniques, give guidance for needed change and offer support as adjustments are being made.