What is Stress?
The word stress is one of those words in modern life that has been used so often to describe such as wide range of situations that it has almost reached a point of having no real meaning at all.
Stress is often incorrectly defined as vague feelings of nervousness, anxiety or upset you are experiencing because of difficulty with some aspect of your environment.
Work-place stress is said to come from an inability to match skills or competence with the tasks you are expected to perform.
But how else do you gain the motivation to do better and become more competent unless at least some pressure is being applied?
Stress is often used to describe almost any uncomfortable feeling but not all uncomfortable feelings in your life are stress.
Real, destructive stress is the result of some factor in your life that is actively or secretly opposing your efforts to live the way you want to live or to do the things you want to do.
The truth is that real stress usually comes from other people, not from the challenges in life that actually make life interesting.
What Are You Trying to do in Life?
The answers might include:
- Be more successful.
- Have happier relationships.
- Pursue a more rewarding career.
- Get along with others better.
- Achieve more short-term and long-term goals.
These are all positive activities that would result greater happiness and fulfillment if you were to achieve them. Each one also includes the need to overcome obstacles in oreder to make them come true.
For example, someone trying to build a relationship, or a house, will inevitably encounter some obstacles. Solving those obstacles enhances the pleasure of the achievement.
Life is a Game
Sometimes playing the game is more fun than winning it – or losing it. Determination, persistence and loyalty to your aims are just some of the ingredients that lead to success. These words also describe living purposefully and energetically.
Overcoming barriers and obstacles in the achievement of worthwhile future goals is what life is all about.
Just as you can’t make a cake without breaking some eggs, making a better life includes some moments of discomfort and confusion.
The hours you spend learning and mastering some new skill, the years of care and attention that children always require, these are all difficulties in life that if overcome result in a greater reward.
None of these are sources of real stress – unless they also include the presence of someone who is actively or secretly opposing you in these efforts.
How to Identify Sources of Stress
A quick survey of your friends, colleagues, and relatives will reveal considerable differences in personality types. However, these will generally fall into two main categories:
- Those who say Yes to the possibility of winning or gaining something.
- Those who say No to either protect what they already have or to avoid possible loss.
‘Yes’ personalities are taking an optimistic, hopeful, approach to living. ‘No’ personalities have already been defeated by life in some way.
The friend who is trying to start his own business is probably in the first category.
The relative who endlessly dwells on the upsets of the past is in the second.
The employee who asks more of you than you think you’re capable of providing, or the parent who encourages you, are each Yes personalities.
The ‘best friend’ who consistently undermines your confidence by saying unkind things to you “for you own good” is a No personality.
The colleague who starts your day by relating some horror story, or who always grumbles and complains is also a No personality.
Of course anyone can swing from one category to the other under certain circumstances. What we’re talking about here are their usual characteristics.
Spend time with a genuinely upbeat, positive friend and you’ll feel better, more interested in your goals and objectives.
Spend time with an angry, deceitful, critical, or apathetic ‘No’ personality and you’ll end up wondering why you bothered to get out of bed. And you’ll find yourself experiencing real stress.
Try this exercise:
Make a list of all the people you know. Now test this question on each name: “If I were hanging over a precipice above shark-infested waters, which would I want managing the other end of the lifeline?”
You’ll probably end up with a fairly accurate set of ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ personalities. What you do next is up to you, but a smart move would be to see more of the former and less of the latter.
Sources of Stress in Your Environment
The news media.
Distributing bad news is how the news organizations make money. They try to attract a constant audience so that they can sell advertising to that audience.
To do that they promote bad news almost constantly giving the reader or viewer the idea that everywhere, all of the time something bad is happening and that something bad will soon happen.
This traps you into believing that you must read or watch the news everyday in case something bad happens so that you will know about it.
This is a lie. Try ignoring the T.V news and the daily newspapers for a week and see how much better you feel.
Reminders of past failures.
Yes, we all fail from time to time, it is a necessary part of learning how to succeed. When you think of a past failure, instead of simple dwelling on it, try to look at it from a different perspective.
Ask yourself, what can I learn from that experience? Remember, successful people see failure as an opportunity to improve, unsuccessful people see failure as a reason to give up.
Drugs and Alcohol
Drugs or over-indulgence in alcohol have the undesirable effect of reducing your persistence, courage and general awareness.
Establish a healthy diet, establish a regular sleeping schedule and get some exercise.
The real key to dealing with real stress is to separate the real stress you are experiencing from the natural pressures of living life.
Only then can you identify the exact factors causing that stress and implement strategies for dealing with those factors.