We had another fight.
There is no way I am going to meet this deadline.
We are just waiting on the lab results.
My boss has no idea what he’s doing.
I missed another soccer game.
I guess we can just put it on the credit card.
Any of these statements catch your attention? Any one of these things could be the cause of significant stress. And most of us are probably dealing with multiple things like this, not to mention the day to day “insignificant” stuff like where we put our keys, and traffic, and kids who forget their lunch boxes. We all experience stress. When our life’s events and circumstances tax us beyond what we are readily able to cope with, stress is the result. “Psychological stress is defined as the mismatch between an individual’s coping skills and the demands of the environment.” Or, the gap between our expectations and what really happens. And when we don’t deal with that gap appropriately, our lives get out of balance. Our stress morphs into anxiety, depression, illness, a lack of productivity, and a loss of enjoyment in life.
Consequences of Stress on Your Body
Stress is not just mental; it is a whole body experience. Our bodies have a survival mechanism called a stress response or startle response. This is controlled by a part of our brain, which introduces chemicals to prepare us for action, especially in threatening circumstances. This response impacts many of the body’s systems: digestive, cardiovascular, respiratory, muscular, and immunological.
2 Kinds of Stress – Productive and Nonproductive
Have you ever considered that there is a productive side to stress? If you ever wrote a paper two hours before it was due, or built a crib a 3:00 a.m. you know what I mean. Dan McGee says productive stress is what we experience as we go through the daily demands of our lives, as we reach and attempt to achieve our goals and even what we feel as we look forward to success. But nonproductive stress happens when our emotions are overly burdened, our bodies are strained beyond our limits, our actions or behaviors are defeating, and when our relationships are highly conflicted and at risk.
Change is the key word!
How You Can Cope with Stress
- Change your situation. Put yourself in some other place, such as a new job, or out of a damaging relationship.
- Change the current environment you are in; use your influence, skills, and inspiration to affect change right where you are with the culture or attitudes around you.
- Maybe most importantly, CHANGE YOU! Improve your abilities to deal with conflict, fears, emotions, demands or other components of stress using more healthy thinking (cognition).
Most nonproductive stress comes from irrational beliefs and thoughts about ourselves, others, and sometimes even God. When we are overwhelmed emotionally, worried, our physical bodies drained, or our relationships strained, we give in to assumptions, misguided expectations, and clouded perceptions of reality.
How are you dealing with stress in your daily life? Not sure where to start? Don’t forget the tried and true basics…eat good food, exercise, use relaxation techniques, sleep, go for a walk, talk with a friend. Consider making the changes necessary to feel better, be more productive, and enjoy your relationships at home, work, and at play.
Tell us where you’re struggling with Stress – We’d be glad to help. Write a comment in the box below.