Managing the Stress of An Exciting Life

How Much 'Good' Stress Is Too Much?

Young women dancing at party
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We all like excitement in our lives. Sometimes fun things can also cause us stress and this is not the same as the 'bad' stress we feel during trying times, this is more of a 'good' stress.

We enjoy the thrill of adventure or the ability to achieve a goal or lend someone a hand. Yet, even this stress can be a challenge to manage.

Many of us, especially overachievers and 'adrenaline junkies', take on as much as possible, only to feel stressed and overwhelmed.

How much of this 'good' stress is too much? That is the question one energetic reader asked:

”I like a little action in my life—without it I get bored. However, at times, it can slip into being overwhelming. How do I know when my stress level’s unhealthy and I need to tone things down, and how do I go about managing the stress of an exciting life?”

Not All Stress is Bad Stress

This reader has noticed something that many people don’t realize: not all stress is bad for you and we wouldn't want to eliminate it all even if we could! That is why managing stress, rather than eliminating stress, is the goal here.

There are types of stress, such as eustress and acute stress, that are actually beneficial to keeping life interesting. This type of stress includes the thrill of a roller coaster or the excitement of planning a party.

However, even this exciting stress can add up and become negative if you get too much.

If you don’t have time to recover in between one jolt of excitement and the next, your body’s stress response can still work overtime and that can take a toll on your health.

How Much Stress Is Too Much?

Stress of any kind can become overwhelming and sometimes it can be difficult to tell when your stress level is too high, especially when you are excited.

The symptoms are different for everyone, but some common signs that you’ve had too much excitement and need to slow down include:

  • Impatience or Edginess
  • Lack of Enjoyment
  • Sleep Problems
  • Exhaustion

If ignored, stress symptoms can get more serious and difficult to deal with. This can defeat the purpose of those activities you enjoy most. If it stresses you out, it takes the enjoyment out of it.

The tricky part of managing stress is that when dealing with stressful events that are enjoyable you may not always notice how stressed you feel until you experience the more serious stress symptoms or until you feel overwhelmed. This tends to happen often to people with ‘Type A’ personalities, overachievers, and self-described ‘adrenaline junkies’.

Tips for Managing Stress (Even the Good Kind)

Because everyone’s early warning signals are different, it is important to get in touch with your own response to stress overload. Pay attention so you can notice the toll that stress is taking and allow yourself to focus on managing stress before things get to be too much.

A good way to stay connected with yourself and reduce stress at the same time is to maintain a daily journal or practice regular meditation.

Both of these are excellent stress relievers that carry many other health benefits as well.

Lighten Your Schedule

Quite often, stress becomes overwhelming because we try to do too much in a short period of time. It's very easy to want to stay active in everything that interests you, but sometimes you need to know where to draw the line.

  • If you are an adventure seeker, you may want to lighten the scheduled events on your next trip so you have time to relax and reflect in between.
  • If you volunteer in your spare time but find that your schedule is often overloaded, take a look at how you can rearrange things to allow time for yourself.
  • Ask yourself if there are activities that you can cut back on. Can you take that pottery class you love every other week rather than every week so you can spend more time at home?