What’s All That Stress About, Anyway?  

In a world where . . .

the toe-tapping demands for your attention are non-stop and getting more insistent . . .just keeping up-to-date sometimes feels like you’re trying to get a drink but it’s from a whooshing fire hose.   In a world like this, survival is the order of the day.

In this world, changes pile up on one another and the pace keeps accelerating.

All this change generates stress.

Measuring the impact of stressful events, the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale is a list of 43 life events of varying magnitude–starting with Death of a Spouse (100 life change units), Divorce (73), and ending with Christmas (12) and a Minor Violation of the Law (11).  Nearly all of them hinge on change.  To get a sense of impact, review the events in your life in the last year; a cumulative score above 300 indicates risk of illness.

So what exactly about change is stressful?

The answer is likely complex, unique to you and situational.  In general, though, I think it is about a loss of control.

Double-clicking on that, stress manifests due to the fears of losing what we have and not getting what we want.  And, the worst fear of all: needing to let go of what we have to be available for something new, not getting it, and ending up with nothing.

 Imagine an iceberg:  the small part above water is the stressors we notice such as when we’re running late, stuck in rush hour traffic and then a truck blares its horn, starting a chain reaction of honking cars, kids fighting in the backseat and spilled coffee.

The much larger part of the iceberg below water is what really gets to us.  That would be the anxiety of the imagined consequences of . . . being late and not getting a critical report finished by tomorrow’s noon deadline; or, failing to persuade in next week’s presentation to senior management at your biggest client.

Drilling down, it’s always about fear.  Sometimes, just fear about fear.

The answer is to start with awareness.  Increasing our awareness of what the triggers are. This means that we can start by recognizing these stressors and be alert to their impact.  Forewarned is forearmed.  It also means we can take pre-emptive steps to cut out some of these stressors.

Accepting that some stress is inevitable, if we take an observant perspective, we can keep some remove from the fears and not get so pulled in.

Next month, we’ll look more in depth at motivations for coping with stress for increased wellness.

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From the Water Cooler . . .

Every time I say Yes to something new,

 I am saying No to something else.

Success, enlightenment.