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Is Stress Normal?

Today’s topic is learning the difference between normal and abnormal stress

Disclaimer: I do not diagnose, treat, or prescribe for medical or mental illness with my online content. My views are my own and are not associated or representative of my employer(s). This blog is for educational purposes only and not medical advice.

Certain types of stress are definitely normal, it's hard to imagine getting through a day without it, right? Some stress is not normal, let's learn more about the differences.


What is Normal, Acute Stress?

Under acute stress, this system functions normally. Examples of acute stress would be an upcoming deadline or test, public speaking, being startled by a slamming door, a deer jumping out in front of your car. During these situations you may have heart palpitations, start sweating, feel sick to your stomach, develop a headache or neck or shoulder stiffness as a result of your "fight or flight" response. Thank your body for this response - it is mobilizing the energy you need to be excellent at your speech, to finish your project on time, and to jump out of the way of projectile baby vomit.

Chronic Stress

What is Abnormal, Chronic Stress?

Under chronic stress, this system malfunctions. Examples of chronic stress include major life changes like loss of a family member, job, or a move, frequent illnesses, relationship problems or problems at work, lack of healthy coping skills, lack of a supportive environment, and improper nutrition. Chronic stress is exacerbated by negative thought processes such as:

  • Catastrophizing - thinking the worst will happen or thinking something is much worse than it actually is

  • Helplessness - thinking that one is incapable of accomplishing tasks and has little or no control of their environment

  • Perseverative Thought - continuous thinking about negative events in the past or the future such as rumination, worry, and mind wandering about negative topics

Imagine being reprimanded at work for being late to a meeting when there was nothing you could do to avoid it. You're watching your manager's mouth move but you can barely hear him through the pounding blood rushing past your ears, your face is red hot and your muscles are tense. That is you fully experiencing your stress response. Now imagine thinking about it on the drive home. You get that same feeling - that same stress response, now think about it over and over - each time you perseverate on this negative event you're reproducing that stress response in your body. Over time, that leads to chronic stress.


If you're suffering the chronic stress of burnout, I have a program for you! I work side by side with other moms and healthcare professionals to help calm the chaos in their minds and lives to overcome the overwhelm and conquer burnout.

My program gives you an organized, step-by-step process, an accountability partner (me!), and lots of self-care tips and self-learning activities to help you change those feelings of overwhelm and stress into joyful and intentional living – with more time, energy, success, confidence, mindfulness, and overall well-being.


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