Stressing Out about Stress
Stress is all around us, every day, and we have all devised a variety of ways — some effective, some less so — for dealing with it. Some of us exercise, while others listen to music. Some people like to take time out for a hobby , or to play with their children. People find countless ways to cope with the burden of stress.
What most people don’t realize, however, is how pervasive stress really is in our lives. Stress doesn’t simply come from a looming project’s deadline at work, or from the in-laws coming to visit. It isn’t just having to deal with an unexpected loss, or having to deal with all the details of planning a trip. Stress can come from the positive things that happen in our lives, too.
Stress Is All Around Us
For example, a lot of people go through events in their lives that are happy, joyous times. Buying a new car or home, or getting married, or even just going out on a first date, are all things that most people look forward to. But just because we look forward to something doesn’t mean it isn’t stressful, and therefore, potentially fraught with unexpected difficulties. We can recognize the stress that comes from having to work under pressure or a deadline, or deal with an angry boss or coworker. But we’re slower to recognize — if we do so at all — the stress associated with these other kinds of events.
Coworkers, friends, and significant others have to deal with all the things that we do as well. We sometimes forget that nearly everyone has to deal with some sort of stressful event nearly every day. “You think you’ve had a bad day? Wait ’til you hear about mine!” But outdoing one another with tales of woe generally isn’t helpful.
Identifying the Stress
Knowing that stress is all around us is an important insight. It helps us to understand that it comes in the form of both positive and negative events that occur in our lives, and that nearly everyone we interact with during the day is dealing with some level of stress as well. Why does it help? Because once we’re aware of all of the various forms stress can take, we are better prepared to recognize it when it rears its ugly head.
Once you’ve identified the positive or negative events that are causing you to feel stress, you can work on reducing those feelings. If you can’t identify them or you misidentify them, you may end up unintentionally blaming others for your stressed-out feelings, or remove things in your life that you thought were causing you stress, but were actually not. Sometimes it helps to write things down — the event or issue that is causing you stress, how it makes you feel, how long it has been occurring, and some possible solutions to feeling less overwhelmed by it.