We all know what stress can feel like – it’s an everyday part of life. And some forms of stress can actually be beneficial, just like when your job demands that you work through challenges. Likewise, when an athletic activity is stressful, if can inspire us to rise to excellence.
But we all need a break from stress sometimes! If we feel stress persist for long periods of time, or if it feels like it’s getting more and more intense, this can lead to feeling overwhelmed.
Here are four common phases of stress that we may experience at different times in our lives.
Phase 1: Highly Functioning
This reaction to stress should be very familiar – it’s the kind of stress that makes people typically feel engaged and committed to an activity. Here, it can motivate you to accomplish something, and can be managed well. All in all, it’s not the kind of stress that will affect your work and home life.
Phase 2: Disillusionment
Here, we may start to feel that the pressures at home and work are starting to overwhelm us – can you relate to the feeling that comes from seeing one responsibility pile up on the next?
When this happens, we may start avoiding certain people like demanding co-workers. We may also experience lapses in concentration, and also feel very little satisfaction in achieving our work and home goals.
Phase 3: Withdrawal
During this phase, we tend to feel a general sense of dissatisfaction with everything – your work and home life are draining you, and there is a general flow of negativity between these aspects of your life.
We may also lose any remaining enthusiasm for work, relationships, hobbies, family, and friends; often, in this phase, these things tend to irritate us.
Phase 4: Complete Disengagement
Here, life simply becomes overwhelming, and we may no longer be able to cope with everyday challenges.
Along with this, we may feel complete disdain for many people we interact with, as well as our daily tasks. Typically, our patience and sense of humour also falls by the wayside – along with any motivation or enthusiasm we had left.
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As you can see, there is significant difference between these four phases of stress – they range from what most of consider manageable, to completely overwhelming.
If you’re struggling with stress, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a way to understand how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviour are related; it can help you gain the perspective you need to be able to untangle your stressful thoughts and feelings, and move forward.
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