How to Stop Being Pushed over Your Threshold

“I’ve had it up to here!”

Is my mom the only one who ever said that five gazillion times growing up.

“I’ve had it up to here with you and your brother fighting.”

“I’ve had it up to here with this mess on the floor.”

“I’ve had it up to here with your father.” (Well maybe she never said that, but kids pick up on things you know.)

Usually this was said in a tone, at a decibel level, with a look and a posture that really got our attention.  Even shocked us.  I mean there we were just floating along, being the little angels that we were, thinking everything was okay.

Who knew at the time, that my mom was teaching me one of the most essential health (and maybe even life) lessons around–the threshold principle.  

Sounds fancy, but it’s simple.

Everybody has a threshold.  You can only let things build up so much and then when you reach the threshold it hits you...usually in a way that really gets your attention.  

You can determine your threshold in different ways.

You feel anxious, you catch the flu, you lose your temper, you throw your back out, you develop heartburn or allergies or asthma or any other number of conditions.  

And you think, where in the world did this come from?  

I wasn’t doing anything differently.  What could have caused this? Nothing big has happened.  

You’re right.  

You may not have been doing anything differently, but those things you’ve been doing for a long time have added up.  Nothing big happened, but you were so close to the threshold that one tiny thing was enough to push you over your edge.   

So the idea of a threshold is straightforward.  

You can relate to the idea of reaching your limit I’m sure.  

But the real lessons are where the threshold itself is and what’s going on under the threshold.  

Lesson 1: You never really know where your threshold is, and you should strive to get it higher. Here’s why...

Yes you read that correctly.  Be able to put up with more sh!# that’s thrown at you without letting it rock you.  

Explore these five concepts to boost your threshold.

1. Stand tall.  

Walking your path with confidence keeps life’s curveballs from throwing you off of it.  Developing and maintaining confidence isn’t easy, but it’s possible.  

2. Have faith.  

When you develop a core belief that all will unfold as it is meant to and you will be just fine, that’s exactly what will happen.

3. Stay in your own lane.

It’s your path for a reason.  There’s no need to deviate into others’ paths.  It’s not selfish to walk your own path.  It’s just the way it’s meant to be.

4. Connect.  

Even though we are meant to stay in our own lane, forming connections with ourselves, our friends and family and our community is key to feeling supported and coping.  Form and nurture relationships in good old fashion ways-face to face, spending dedicated time.

5. Be willing to accept help.  

Sometimes it’s reaching out to friends, family, pastor or counselor.  Sometimes it’s using medication to improve neurotransmitter balance. Be open to explore techniques with your doctor to improve resilience.

With those five core threshold determinants, you can deal with a heck of a lot of stuff.

Lesson 2: If you’re constantly living on the edge of your threshold, adjust your life so you can live at the bottom of it, so that small (insignificant) events don’t throw you over the edge.

Just like me as a kid, you’re floating along, being the little angel that you are, thinking everything is okay.  Are you skating right under the threshold where any little thing could put you over the edge?  Or do you have plenty of wiggle room towards the bottom so that you can deal with a lot before getting up to the line?  We may have some warning signs towards the top, but in general you never really know.

Explore these key areas to keep as far away from the tipping point as you can.

1. Nutrition is nutrition.  

Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re getting away with unhealthy habits or situations.  Many people who aren’t worried about their weight don’t critically look at the food their eating.  If you have a diet high in sugar, salt, saturated fat and/or processed foods, you are not your healthiest.  I don’t care what you look like or what your lab tests show.  Eat whole fresh natural foods.  Not too much, not too little.

2. Sleep is sleep.  

It’s our healing time, restoration time, background maintenance and prevention time. If you are not getting seven hours, you are not your healthiest.  I don’t care how much your body seemingly has adapted to the lack of sleep, it will catch up to you.  Train your body to get deep restful sleep. Seven hours of it.

3. Exercise is exercise.  

It fine tunes our strength, flexibility and our aerobic stamina and helps prevent everything from arthritis to heart attacks.  There’s no replacement for it and arguably nothing can give you a bigger health benefit. Find things that you enjoy doing and move your body every single day.

4. Calm is calm.  

I often hear things like “I’m always on the go” or “I never sit down” or “My mind never shuts off” as though these are a badge of honor.  Culturally we may be a little off track with this in our go-go-go society, but there is no substitute for rest, relaxation and calm to help every process in the body.  Whether it’s prayer, meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, journaling find time to build in some calming practices into your daily routine.

5. Health data is health data.  

We can’t hang our hat on one single laboratory value or health data point to tell the whole story or predict our health future, but none should be ignored either.  I often hear things like “My (fill in the blank: blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, inflammation markers, weight) always runs high, but that’s normal for me” or “I feel fine.”  As you now know with the threshold principle, you never really know how much these things are affecting you until “it” hits you.  Know your data, respect the scientific study behind it and do everything you can to achieve normal ranges...usually via numbers 1-4 above.    

What do you think? Which lesson most resonates with your life right now and what 1 take-a-way can you apply to your life today? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Don’t let the unknowns of the threshold principle scare you.  We aren’t meant to live life waiting for the shoe to drop.  Use them as motivation and empowerment to get your personal threshold as high as it can be and to stay as far away from it as you can!

Cheers To Your Day!
-Dr. Paige