Stress can be sneaky. It comes from many different areas of our lives and it can accumulate without us being aware of it.
When I was struggling with sleep, my stress came from my work as well as from some family illnesses. As someone who can usually handle everything, the accumulation of stress caught me off guard. And the result was that I was no longer able to shut my brain off and I couldn’t sleep because of it.
How could I not see what was right in front of me?
Because I was tired and exhausted. Honestly, I did not understand how stress can activate our nervous system to the point of it being constantly on fight or flight mode.
When we are in a fight or flight mode, our bodies release stress hormones (adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol) in order for us to be able to do the task at hand, which is helpful. However, when you are constantly trying to put out fires in your life (urgent emails, hospital visits, cooking extra food for loved ones, etc…), your body keeps secreting all these stress hormones over and over. My switch to turn OFF these stress hormones after a task was done got stuck ON, creating a constant state of fight or flight in my body.
Does this sound like you?
Do you find yourself really stressed all day and you just can’t figure out why you can’t regain control?
When we look at these tasks individually, we could handle each separate event on it’s own. Sending an urgent email might create stress for a few minutes, but then our nervous system calms down again when the task is over. But when we have an abundance of tasks to get done, and we go from one to the other, we never give our nervous system the chance to calm down.
What can you do to create awareness of where your stress is coming from?
Evaluate these 5 areas of your life and give them a rating to see which area carries more stress for you. (0 no stress, 5 maximum of stress)
Are you worried about your health? Are you unable to lose weight, always getting sick and feeling sluggish. When our health is poor, mentally or physically, it can add stress to our lives and affect our sleep.
Are you lying awake at night thinking about your family’s well being? Are you grieving the loss of a loved one, getting a divorce or taking care of an elderly family member? Being a caretaker for your family can affect your well-being and disrupt your sleep.
Pressures in the workplace are unavoidable due to the demands of the contemporary work environment. When that pressure becomes excessive or otherwise unmanageable it can lead to stress that can keep you awake at night.
Are you feeling overwhelmed by debt, unable to save for retirement, worried about losing your job or living paycheck to paycheck? Are thoughts of your financial difficulties keeping you awake at night?
Being spiritual means having a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves. When we don’t feel connected, we start searching for the meaning and purpose of our lives. These inquiries into ourselves can keep us awake at night.
If you need help figuring out which area of your life you need to address in order to regain control of your sleep, book your Optimal Sleep Assessment today.
We will look at the things getting in your way of your sleep you might not even be aware of and get clear on the number one thing you can do to improve the quality of your sleep.
Until next time, sleep tight!