Stress also changes our personality. You, who before were so optimistic, confident, that you responded to everyone with a smile and did not stop placing illusions on your horizon, now you perceive yourself in a very different way. Everything bothers you, you lack patience, you are always in a bad mood, you have become more cynical and there is no day when you can get rid of that apathy…
Does this feeling sound? It is a reality of many, it is a state that, without a doubt, completely affects our quality of life. Now, the most striking of all is that in these cases, the person is fully aware of their own change. His way of reacting to his surroundings creates a high dissonance. “I do not recognize myself. Why do I act like this? “They often ask.
However, they can not avoid looking at the world with fatigue, with that veil of darkness where everything is annoying, where what not long ago encouraged and filled with energy, now it is exhausting and lacking in motivation. Also, that difference between what we were before and how we behave now because of stress, is something that further intensifies the suffering.
Now, as pointed out by psychotherapist Carl Rogers, the mere fact of being aware of that discomfort and knowing that we are not good with what we do and what happens to us, is already a good step in itself. That is when we have the opportunity to approach the problem in a clear and courageous way. The only thing that we need is to use the adequate resources.
“There is no reason to look for suffering, but if it comes and tries to get into your life, do not fear; look at his face and with his forehead well raised.”
Stress also changes our personality, how does it do it?
Stress also changes our personality and does so in many ways. Someone who used to define himself does not do much for motivation, dedication and kindness, he can turn after months into someone irritable.
Something like this can be seen not only in ourselves, but also in that work colleague, in that friend or partner who no longer seems to enjoy our company. They become reluctant, they respond in a bad way, they get frustrated easily and they always see problems where before there were only solutions.
Stress makes us pessimistic
Until not long ago the experts thought that the personality, arriving at a certain time of our life, becomes a stable factor, in a dimension that does not change easily with time (Costa and McCrae, 1988). However, studies like the one carried out at the University of California by Dr. Grant Shields, show us something very striking.
Our personality fluctuates and undergoes changes. It does this especially in the face of adverse events or experiences that we learn from and that make us see the world (and ourselves) in another way. Something like that is something positive because it allows us to grow and progress as human beings.
Now, on the other hand, there are also those less encouraging experiences where chronic stress and long maintained over time, generates several changes more than evident in us.
Chronic stress (not the punctual) changes our personality because it makes us pessimistic. The state of helplessness and psychological exhaustion is so deep that distill emotions as adverse as the pessimism, negativity and anguish that floods everything.
Stress changes our neural circuits
Stress activates a brain network made up of the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenal cortex. All this causes the release of several compounds very similar to cortisone, such as glucocorticoids. The best known and the one that has the greatest impact on the brain and our body is cortisol.
In this way, if stress also changes our personality, it is basically due to the effect of this hormone. We are more exhausted, we can not focus attention, we have memory failures and we also experience what is known as “hypersensitivity to the environment”. Any stimulus is lived intensely. That is why patience is lacking, that we magnify small things and that any circumstance surpasses us.
What can we do to reduce the impact of stress?
Stress and anxiety are part of our lives. The purpose is not therefore to make them disappear, but to place them at a midpoint where they can be handled, where they have full control over these psychological realities. Thus, and in case our stress is chronic, it is highly recommended to go to specialized professionals.
Let’s see, however, some basic and simple keys in which we should go thinking to generate changes.
- Set priorities. As far as possible, it is advisable to simplify and organize our day to day.
Practices such as minfulness are very effective in reducing stress.
- There is a very elementary rule that we should use on a day-to-day basis: start one thing at a time and finish it. It is forbidden to think and do different activities at the same time.
- Set positive goals throughout our days: sign up for a course, have two hours for ourselves, a walk…
- Take care of our internal dialogue. That talk with ourselves should always be in our favor, should be kind and skilled in turn to detect negative and disabling thoughts.
- It is highly recommended to be able to rely on significant people.
- Identify your stressors and work them.