The Power in the way we Think

Listening to Stress

traffic_light stress

For today’s post I’d like to thank a good friend of mine for assisting me with some ideas and brainstorming for the innovative analogy that we are about to share with you all. Please join me in applauding Libby! 🙂

I want to talk with you about the signals stress provides, to tell you that you need to take action. I think most people get caught up in the day to day rush of life, forgetting that we need to take some down time to replenish our energy and rejuvenate. Our body will always tell us when we are stressed and where it needs you to pay attention.

I want to introduce you to a simple “traffic light” system to help you to know what signs to look for and how to interpret them when they arrive. Many of us don’t notice the signs at all, while some of us absolutely notice them, but don’t know what they are for. We consider them to be minor twinges and the signs often go away, so we decide that it wasn’t anything to worry about and carry on the way we were. These can be classed as green light signals.

The thing is, if we choose to ignore those smaller signs, our body will object and will become louder to get your attention. So it gives you some bigger signs (orange light). If you then choose to ignore those and do nothing to address them, it ramps things up to the red light category and literally hits you in the face with the big guns.

Let’s have a look at each category and some examples of the signals that can be included.

Green Light

  • Muscle tension in various parts of the body
  • Twinges of back pain
  • Tight throat (like you can’t speak)
  • Heart flutters
  • Irritability
  • Being snappy
  • Fatigue
  • Food cravings
  • Headaches
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Occasional neck ache
  • Upset tummy and mild nausea
  • Nerve pain such as sciatica
  • Feeling emotionally fragile

Orange Light

  • Food cravings
  • Crashing after a full on week at work
  • No energy to do anything at the end of the day
  • Minor stress related illnesses
  • Colds and flus
  • Mild or occasional migraines
  • Persistent neck ache
  • Nausea
  • The urge to hide away
  • Crying and not knowing why
  • Insomnia
  • Mild depression

Red Light

  • Heart attack
  • Major stress related conditions such as high blood pressure or difficulty in controlling diabetes
  • Flares of rage
  • Increased symptoms of conditions such as fibromyalgia, glandular fever and chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Frequent or severe migraines
  • Severe depression
  • Flares of conditions such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome
  • Chronic insomnia or sleeping excessively
  • Stroke

You need to understand that these lists are certainly not exhaustive. There are many others that can be added in each category. While there are similarities in how we all experience stress, each person’s body is different and will show signs that are unique, which means that we need to be on the alert.

It’s important that we try to catch our own signals when they are in the green light category as by that stage they are much easier to manage than the ones in the red light category!

What does your body tell you when you are stressed? Feel free to share your signals below. Hopefully this will not only help you in identifying your own signals, but also assist others in triggering their own lightbulb moments.

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Comments on: "Listening to Stress" (4)

  1. I seem to be in the Green light category, but being married to, & Carer of, someone strongly in the Red light category means I’m not sure I’ll be staying in the Green for much longer!! Certainly anti-stress techniques are a great idea for people like me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great to see you comment Roslyn! You’re absolutely right. It can be extremely difficult to stay in the green category when you have someone in your life who is consistently in the red!

      Like

  2. Hi Ali thank you for your post. I realise you wrote it two years ago. I did a Google search for posts like yours as I’m considering writing my own on traffic lights in fatigue management. Just started this process with my occupational therapist, who has been using it for years very successfully

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jacksdavie. Thanks so much for your comment, I’m glad you found me. Hopefully you found my version of the traffic lights helpful. I think it would work well, with a few minor adjustments, for awareness around fatigue to help manage your self care.

      Just to let you know, I have updated my website and am in the process of adding several more resources that might be helpful. If you’re interested, you can find it at http://www.themindseteffect.com

      Hope that is helpful for you,

      Ali 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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