Stress overwhelm appears when you no longer meet the demands
Stress is an inescapable and necessary component of life. If we were to live a life of zero stress we would fail to grow, learn and thrive. As the Yerkes-Dodson law informs us, stress can either facilitate or debilitate performance. Life is fundamentally about the constant balance between our internal resources (physical, psychological, spiritual) and the demands our environment places upon those resources.
Stress overwhelm occurs when our resources have becoming chronically insufficient to meet the demands of our environment – the system left to its own devices cannot bounce back, having exhausted all its adaptations to cope.
Stress overwhelm causes an individual’s level of functioning to deteriorate
When an individual is in stress overwhelm the usual things that might have worked in the past to restore them to a better level of functioning no longer work. Simply getting more sleep is no longer sufficient to restore one’s vitality. Eating better is less effective because digestive function has become compromised and psychological strategies becomes less effective because stress overwhelm produces an abundance of negative emotions – rage, panic, cynicism, resentment and a flat lining of motivation that compromises higher order cognitive functioning.
Effective intervention for stress overwhelm requires an advanced approach
Given the nexus between mind and body functioning and its dysregulation in stress overwhelm, effectively intervening in stress overwhelm requires a sophisticated mind-body approach. Too often the interventions for this very advanced stage of stress artificially divide the mental from the physical, assuming the problem is occurring from the ‘neck up’ or not paying sufficient attention to the physical factors impacting functioning.
Mineral loss as one of the root causes of stress overwhelm
One of the key factors underpinning stress overwhelm is derangement of the body’s mineral system. Under conditions of chronic stress, humans begin to lose key mineral such as magnesium and zinc, minerals which have sedative properties upon the nervous system and activate higher order cognitive functions. Unfortunately the rate of mineral loss often exceeds the rate at which minerals can be repleted from diet alone, especially given that stress overwhelm negatively impacts digestive function and leads people to choose comfort foods over nutrient dense meals.
The costs of being and remaining in stress overwhelm are enormous both to the individual, their loved ones, the organisations they belong to and society. Fortunately advances in understanding the mind-body system allow for sophisticated, targeted and time-limited intervention that can begin to restore mind-body functioning.
Are you or key members of your team in stress overwhelm? If you want to learn more about my mind-body approach, visit my website.