It seems like everyone has stress. But honestly, it really is a natural part of being human. When our life’s events and circumstances tax us beyond what we can cope with, stress is the result. Stressors are external events which cause an emotional or physical reaction. The impact of the things we experience depends on whether we perceive the events positively or negatively.
“Psychological stress is the mismatch between an individual’s
coping skills and the demands of the environment.” – Dan McGee
Conflict Demands Fear Assumptions Expectations Time Pressures Physical and Emotional Pain
These are only a few of the components linked to our stress. They certainly cause a sense of conflict and a buildup of physical and mental strain. This often leads to strained relationships, a lack of productivity, and a loss of joy in life.
Productive and Non-Productive Stress
In the daily demands of our lives, we experience productive stress. This happens as we reach for our goals and work toward success and satisfaction in different aspects of our lives. Productive stress feels good as we see the results of our achievements. But non-productive stress happens when our emotions are overtaxed, our bodies are strained beyond our limits, and when our relationships are highly conflicted or at risk. There is not a sense of satisfaction in our efforts, and the outcomes we hope for in our relationships feel less hopeful.
A study of couples (Neff & Karney) indicated how high stress levels negatively impact marriages:
- The greater the stress levels, the more strongly partners react to the normal ups and downs of life. So, when stress levels are high, couples receive, and internalize, perceived slights more intensely.
- When stress levels are high, using positive relationship skills (communication and conflict management) are much more difficult. Stress also makes it harder to use and maintain empathy and compassion.
- Couples are more likely to see their relationship negatively when they have prolonged exposure to stress. High stress colors a couple’s perceptions of their marriage in a negative way (a negative sentiment override).
2 Main Ways to Cope with Stress
Eliminate the stressor.
Some stress is controllable. In some cases it is possible to make choices that eliminate the stressor, like working too many hours, volunteering for too many activities, or not delegating to others.
Change your reaction to the stress.
When you can’t eliminate a stressor, evaluate how you react to or cope with the stressor. Improve your skills and abilities to deal with conflict, fears, demands or other stressors. One of the most critical processes to change your reaction to stress is to practice good self-care.
Practice Good Self-Care
- Be Aware- Tune into signals that alert you to your feelings and thoughts of stress. What do you feel in your body? Are my “buttons” being pushed or triggered? Is my personal alarm sounding?
- Accept- Be ok with your feelings. Receive the job to care and learn from the specific stress you are undergoing. Accept the feelings as information or data and DO something.
- Allow- Take a moment and allow God or others to guide and help you. Use the support you have around you.
- Attend- This is the work! Identify and explore what you need in the moment to cope in a healthy way. Ask yourself: What is going on? What am I feeling? Where is it coming from? Is there anything I am doing that is “amping up” (creating) this stress? What do I want or need? Have I been through this before?
- Act- Do the stuff! Act in a way that is consistent with how you want to deal with the natural stresses in life. What can I do to care for me while maintaining my honor and integrity?
What do you think? Can you identify stress in your life? Do you believe you have the power to do something healthy with it? Let us know what you think; leave us a comment below.