In a recent survey that we conducted of over 23,000 women, over 70% of those who responded told us that their number one problem was stress and overwhelm.
And – all women at all stages were affected the same way by stress.
We’ve seen this pattern in other areas of our research, too. In our work, we’ve learned that when women have high stress in pregnancy, it tends to carry on through the year after delivery and beyond. Without support, many women continue to have high levels of stress…for a long time.
This is why we’re so passionate about helping women to reduce their stress.
Good and Bad Stress
Not all stress is bad. For instance, the slight edginess that you experience just before a job interview, an exam, or even before meeting new people can actually improve your performance. Good stress is:
- low intensity
On the other hand, bad stress is just the opposite. It’s:
- out-of-control (unmanageable)
- high intensity
Stress is Supposed to Be Good for You!
Good stress is meant to take your performance to the next level. When you read a situation as slightly stressful, your brain acts like an army commander that signals the troops to get into action. On its signal, chemicals and hormones are sent surging throughout your body to make you more alert and ready to face or flee from your stressor.
So, stress is supposed to protect you from the nasty things in your environment that might cause you harm.
The problem is that most of our modern-day stressors are of the social variety – conflict with colleagues at work, difficult relationships with your in-laws, stressful interactions with your partner – you get the picture. And that means that our stress levels stay high for a long time. Our bodies don’t get the chance to recover from a stressful encounter the way they are meant to do.
That’s bad stress.
The First Step
The first step to dealing with stress is having self-awareness: Knowing how muchstress you’re actually dealing with.
Two things happen when we increase our self-awareness about our level of stress:
- We feel validated. We have a big AHA moment when we learn where we’re at.
- We feel like our experience makes sense.
- We understand more about ourselves, and that self-revelation comes with a sense of confidence and assurance.
Know Your Stress is a 4-part tool that you can use to know where you’re at with your stress. Each question is a continuum that ranges from red (danger zone), to orange/yellow (caution zone) to green (healthy zone).
Think about the past week. Identify where you are at on each of the 4 questions. You can print off this blog and mark your position with an “X” or simply envision where you are at. I’ve found the most benefit when I can see an “X” that defines where I’m at. There just something about visually seeing my position that makes the point even more dramatically.
Making Sense of Your Know Your Stress Answers
Here are 5 questions that will help you reflect upon your answers and gain even more insight about how you’re managing with stress :
Q1: How many of your answers are in the Red, Danger Zone? _______________
Q2: How many of your answers are in the Orange/Yellow, Caution Zone?__________
Q3: How many of your answers are in the Green, Healthy Zone?______________
The more of your answers that fell into the Red, Danger Zone, the more stress you are experiencing.
Q4: For those answers that fell into the Orange/Yellow, Caution Zone, what would it take to move your responses to the Green, Healthy Zone?
Q5: For those answers in the Orange/Yellow Zone, which ones are in danger of sliding into the Red, Danger Zone?
Now let me ask you:
If you could push a magic button, where would you rather be?
Your Next Step
Several women shared with us that they would like an online course to help them better manage their stress and overwhelm. Certainly, this is the topic that comes up most when I coach women.
We’ve designed a pilot course called “The Path from Overwhelm and Stress to Calm and Confidence: A 6-Step System” and are looking for a small group of women to work through it.
If you’re tired of feeling trapped in your overwhelm or you’re feeling like you’re short-changing everyone and everything in your life and can’t seem to rise above your stress, take a peek:
I’m happy to answer any questions you have: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Dawn Kingston