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Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. There’s going to be stress in life, but it’s your choice whether you let it affect you or not

– Valerie Bertinelli
Stress—just the word may be enough to set your nerves on edge. Everyone feels stressed from time to time and not all stress is bad. But if you are in the wrong career, chances are stress is chronic and possibly impacting not only your mental health but also your physical health.

What is stress?

Stress can be defined as the brain’s response to any demand. Many things can trigger this response, including change. Changes can be positive or negative, as well as real or perceived. Changes can be mild and relatively harmless, such as winning a race, watching a scary movie, or riding a rollercoaster.

Some changes are major, such as marriage or divorce, serious illness, or a car accident. Extreme changes such as exposure to violence can lead to traumatic stress reactions.

Some people cope with stress more effectively or recover from stressful events quicker than others.

How does stress affect the body?

All animals, including humans, have a stress response that can be life saving in some situations. The nerve chemicals and hormones released during such stressful times prompt the fight or flight response, which informs the animal to prepare to face a threat or to flee to safety. When you face a dangerous situation, your pulse quickens, you breathe faster, your muscles tense, your brain uses more oxygen and increases activity—all functions aimed at survival.

However, with chronic stress, those same nerve chemicals that are life saving in short bursts can suppress functions that aren’t needed for immediate survival. Your immunity is lowered and your digestive, excretory, and reproductive systems stop working normally.

Once the threat has passed, other body systems act to restore normal functioning. Problems occur if the stress response goes on too long, such as when the source of stress is constant.

How does stress affect your overall health?

There are at least three different types of stress, all of which carry physical and mental health risks:

  • Routine stress related to the pressures of work, family, and other daily responsibilities.
  • Stress brought about by a sudden negative change, such as losing a job, divorce, or illness.
  • Traumatic stress experienced in an event like a major accident, war, assault, or a natural disaster.

The body responds to each type of stress in similar ways, but people may feel it in different ways. For example, some people experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, depressed mood, anger, and irritability. People under chronic stress are prone to more frequent and severe viral infections, such as the flu or common cold. Vaccines, such as the flu shot, are less effective for them.

Of all the types of stress, changes in health from routine stress may be hardest to notice at first. Since the source of stress tends to be more constant than in cases of acute or traumatic stress, the body gets no clear signal to return to normal functioning.

Over time, continued strain on your body from routine stress may lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety disorder, and other illnesses.

WARNING: If you feel overwhelmed by stress, you should seek help from a professional.  The National Institute of Health provides this advice. NIH Help for Mental Illness. Also, this guide contains very helpful tips for combatting and controlling stress in your life.

What does this have to do with your career transition?

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I was under immense pressure from my boss and the board of directors to finish a critical project.  Although I had adopted the project with significant issues, that didn’t matter…I now owned it.

The stress was making me miserable, but more importantly, it was impacting me physically. My weight increased, my A1C rose, and my chronic migraines became worse.

I needed to make a change, and it couldn’t come soon enough. I engaged a life coach who helped me realize that the changes I needed to make, although by no means simple, were completely within my control. I ultimately concluded that the change I needed to make was to get out of that stressful environment and pursue what had always been my life’s aspiration—becoming a Chief Executive Officer.

I was fortunate and found the job of my dreams in a new career, something I hope to show you how to do.  Being a CEO was stressful of course, but it came with different types of stressors. Once I had made the decision to move on with my life, my health improved significantly.

I suspect if you are reading this blog that you are contemplating a career transition or may be in the middle of one. My website www.fixmycareernow.com has resources and articles that you may find useful as you navigate this challenging and often winding road.  Please check it out. Start with this one.

As I mentioned in my earlier blogs, I am creating a program for those who may need professional career transition help. I plan to launch that program at year’s end.

I hope this was helpful, and I look forward to assisting you with your career aspirations.

Take care till next week,

Bob

www.fixmycareernow.com
bob@robertbaird.us

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