This is the natural enemy of a low stress life
by Heather Thatcher
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There are three stages of the modern day stress response.
The first is the alarm stage, which is what our body was designed for. This is the holy forking shift moment when we see a bear coming at us and we want to run away. That’s the alarm stage.
But modern day stressors don’t go away and we move into the next stage, the stage of resistance. Here our body is managing okay and supporting us, but it can’t do this for very long before we move into the last stage, the stage of exhaustion.
Here’s where we feel burnt the F out and ready for the world to stop for 2 weeks so we can catch up and feel human again.
You may be surprised to hear this but your biggest source of stress isn’t your job, it isn’t your circumstances, it isn’t your busy brain , or your inner critic with all the “what-ifs” that pop up and bring on some anxiety.
The natural enemy of living a healthy, balanced, low stress life is something else entirely.
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The natural enemy of a low stress life is your imbalanced compassion for others.
Let me explain.
You have a beautiful generous heart and you’ve been taught how important it is for you to be there for other people.
You’ve learned that your people-pleasing nature is validating and praised because you’re always there for others making sure that they’re happy and well taken care of.
But this is where that whole saying comes into play that you have to take care of others before you can take care of yourself. We all have heard this and know it’s true, but for some reason in our minds we’ve made it true for everyone else except for ourselves.
Somewhere along the way as we were growing up and forming our core beliefs and self-talk patterns, we created a program that said we needed to make sure everyone else around us is taken care of even at our own expense.
You probably even do this now without thinking about it, right?
You automatically show up for the important people in your life, you are there for your work colleagues and are the first to volunteer if someone needs a helping hand.
Don’t get me wrong. This world needs more compassion and I truly believe that increasing compassion for others will heal this world.
But, you beautiful heart, I need to tell you this.
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You deserve the same compassion that you share with others.
Has your brain already dismissed that statement? Did it just bounce off of you?
It’s okay if it did. Just like we talked about before, our brain sorts the information we take in according to our brain-based habit programming. So if you believe that you need to always put others first before yourself – your brain is going to dismiss what I said, that you deserve the same compassion that you share with others.
It’s like if you stepped into cold water and were telling yourself that the water’s warm. Your brain dismisses this statement because it’s receiving information that proves it to be false.
We’ll talk about that in a few weeks, here, but for now I want to talk about what an imbalance in your compassion for others really looks like.
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An imbalance in your compassion and generosity for others means that you are easily prone to taking on too much.
I’ve been there.
I’ve been working two RN jobs, volunteering with multiple organizations, and being at the beck and call of many friends – sleeping 5-6 hours, grabbing a bite to eat when I could, and doing my best to be everything for everyone – except myself.
I used to put myself last.
But here’s the problem:
I thought I was happy and killin’ it. I thought I was living the dream life, I was busy, I had fulfillment in what I was doing, I was feeling validated because my friends wanted me around and I was helping people.
If anyone needed anything, I would figure it out. I would find the time, squeak it in between other commitments.
I would find a way to make it happen.
That was the first time I got really sick.
All of a sudden my health disappeared and I was passing out several times per day, I had this electrical feeling nerve pain, I was getting heart palpitations and struggled to keep food down.
This is what it looks like when you push your compassionate nature to the extreme and take on too much.
Your body eventually says “no” and makes you stop.
When you take on too much, you become less and less able to help the people around you until it gets to the point that you can’t do anything for them at all.
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When you say yes to too many things you stress your body beyond its ability to cope.
You move yourself from the stage of resistance into the stage of exhaustion.
This is what that statement that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others really means.
That’s why true self-care, not wine and bubble baths, but true self-care is essential to supporting your body through this stressful life we live.
You only have so much control over the stressors in your life. You can’t always choose your circumstances and the stress they create for you.
But remember this:
You always have the power to regulate your stress response and you always have the power to say no.
That person who is asking you for help has no idea how much else you have going on, how stressed you feel, and how capable you feel of taking on one more thing – unless you tell them.
They don’t know the impact of adding just one more thing onto your to-do list, unless you tell them.
One of the biggest challenges for people pleasers is to say no or set boundaries around how you can help those around you. But, you beautiful heart, it’s absolutely necessary to do this.
Not only because it will prevent you from moving into the final stage of the stress response where your body gives out like mine did, but because it will also help you prevent the well known, well documented illnesses linked to chronic stress like heart disease, strokes and cancer.
If you want to continue to be there for the important people in your life and be able to help them, you have to manage your stress levels and you have to set boundaries.
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Life’s too short to be spending years figuring out how to do this for yourself
This is exactly why I created the Ultimate Life Survival Guide because figuring out HOW to do this, HOW to overcome your people pleasing nature and find the balance in your compassion and generosity for others can take so much time and effort.
But when you have a proven, step-by-step system that walks you through how to reprogram your self-talk and take back control from your inner critic, how to lower your stress and streamline your life, how to take care of yourself without feeling guilty, and how to speak up and set boundaries so that you don’t get burnt out like I was and you don’t get sick.
This is why I started transitioning my practice out of the ICU because I would rather help prevent people from getting into the hospital in the first place, rather than need to take extraordinary measures to reverse the stress damage that was done.
I want to be on the preventative side of medicine.
And I want to show you that you can do this, you can find balance, you can find a lower stress lifestyle where you still feel valuable and helpful but without being exhausted and burnt out.
There is a beautiful balance and it’s going to feel amazing for you when you find that balance for yourself.