How Much Stress is Too Much Stress?
Updated: Mar 8, 2021
Do stressful thoughts and feelings keep you from living the life you always hoped for? You're not alone.
by Emily Barrett, therapist intern at Peaceful Minds Psychotherapy
When was the last time you felt stressed? For most people, the answer is something like “yesterday” or “right now”. In an ideal world, stress is a motivator and a signal that tells us what needs to get done. You might feel stressed out before an exam, so you spend some extra time studying. Or, you experience mild stress on your way to work because you want to make it there on time. These signals are a natural response that our brains produce to move us towards the goals and achievements that are important to us.
In our real and demanding world, stressful feelings and signals are often overpowering and can cause us to shut down rather than be productive. Instead of motivating you to study for your exam, too much stress can cause you to overstudy by staying up until 4am or understudy because the only effort you have left goes to watching Netflix. Either way, the stress signals didn’t work as planned and your exam is a bust.
Everyone experiences stress symptoms differently; however, it is common to feel anxious, to have trouble focusing, and to experience physical symptoms like being unusually warm or cold, jittery, or to sweat.
Stress and Perfectionism
The need to appear or be perfect is something that a lot of people can relate to, as it is a common pressure that often begins to develop in childhood and adolescence. If you struggle with perfectionism, it is likely that you are experiencing and overabundance of stress that is making your day-to-day life more difficult than others.
The expectations we place on ourselves when we strive for perfection are often so high that it takes all of our energy to reach them, leaving us feeling depleted and burnt out.
Easing the Tension
Being overstressed or bound to perfectionism can feel like the weight of the world is resting on your shoulders. Finding someone that you trust to talk through your struggles with can relieve the tension you feel and help you realize that you aren’t alone. A therapist can provide you with a safe place to be honest about how difficult life can be, and they can help you find ways to ease the tension in your daily routines so you can reach your goals and thrive - not just survive.