Pushing Yourself Too Hard
If work, school, or projects around the house are a source of stress for you, it might seem like the obvious thing to do is just work harder.
- You stay up all night to study for the big exam.
- You work on the weekends instead of taking a break to enjoy yourself.
- You avoid socializing and other pleasurable activities as if you have to punish yourself for not working hard enough or achieving enough.
- You push yourself so hard that you find yourself losing interest in whatever it is you’re doing.
These behaviors result from rigid core beliefs (as described earlier) such as “Anything less than perfection isn’t good enough” or “I don’t deserve to enjoy myself.” These are dangerous because they consistently lead you to push yourself too hard. But the ironic thing is that pushing yourself to the limit – and beyond – can lead to burnout, in which your performance suffers, you lose motivation, get down on yourself . . . and you’re right back where you started.
The tendency to be aggressive, competitive, or hostile when you’re under stress is difficult to resist. It’s the fight part of the fight-or-flight response, and therefore normal. But if your fuse is really short and you don’t have skills for managing anger and frustration, it might lead to outbursts of physical or verbal aggression. You might be easily irritated, leading you to become hostile to those around you or lose control and destroy things, perhaps creating tension in your relationships. Most of the time, this type of behavior only compounds your stress level. Maybe, like some people, you retreat from others when you feel stressed. Instead of seeking advice or comfort from those around you, you isolate yourself. Some people seek out others, but then can’t seem to talk about anything but their own stressful situations.
Using Poor Judgment
Because stress impairs your ability to make thoughtful decisions, you might be prone to engaging in risky behaviors that put you or others in harm’s way. Speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and picking fights are some examples. But you might generally be more likely to take risks, more prone to rush through things, and be less careful. Do you have more accidents, mishaps, and collisions, or make more mistakes than you should? Stress might be to blame.
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