Understanding Stress

What do you think about the word ‘stress’?  It’s hard not to think about the things in your own life that cause you stress.  It could be financial, job-related, family-related, etc.  The potential list is long.  However, stress is a normal and necessary part of life.  The key to stress comes down to how you use that energy.  Yes, I said energy.  When a stressful event happens, your body responds to that stress.  It requires energy, just like anything else that you do.  There are two paths that you can choose from to deal with any particular stress:  You can choose to use that stress as motivation to overcome it, or you can choose to put the stress to the side and hopefully deal with it later.

I’m going to give an obvious hint here.  That second path is going to create anxiety.  Unfortunately, the second path is also easier to follow because it requires less time and energy to accomplish up-front.  It most likely will not have a huge impact by itself, but choosing that path over time with multiple stresses occurring in your life is going to transform your problems into anxiety.

“Anxiety doesn’t give you a warning sign. Stress is the warning sign.”

Let’s say that you have an interview for a job.  The thoughts of having to do that interview makes you nervous, which in turn, creates stress.  The stress comes from wanting the interview to go well and ultimately, you want the job.  If you allow that stress to build as the interview date gets closer, it could create the possibility of anxiety to develop (depending on other stresses are currently going on in your life).  However, if you take the reason for your stress and use it to prepare yourself for the interview (practice answering potential questions, have a mock interview with a friend, etc.), you will lower or possibly even eliminate that stress.

“Confidence is an enemy of stress.”

In this situation, preparing yourself for the interview increases confidence in doing well.  If you are confident about the situation you are stressed about, it creates a comfort with that situation.  This lowers your stress.

The key to reducing anxiety is not going on the offensive against anxiety, it’s getting offensive against stress.

The same rule applies to financial and health-related stress as well.  Financial stress may require setting a budget, or changing some habits, etc.  Health-related stress can be reduced by going to a doctor to gain an understanding of what your issue is and how it can be treated.

However, sometimes stress can be caused by something that is out of your control.  Stress that cannot be reduced through management, is reduced with time.  It’s because of this type of stress, that its important to manage the stress that you can control.

Picture your mind as a cup.  The cup is half-filled with water, which symbolizes stress.  As more stress enters your life that isn’t managed, more water is added to the glass.  Stress that is managed or has passed gets removed from the glass.  That is how your sub-conscious mind works with stress and anxiety.  If stress remains unmanaged, the cup will overflow.  When that happens, you’ve created a breeding ground for anxiety.  Therefore, the thought process here is to manage the stress you can control.  Doing so will leave enough room in your cup for when a heavy stress situation arises unexpectedly.

As human beings, we were designed to rely and support each other through friendship and companionship.  Never underestimate the power of sharing your stressful situation with someone, especially those stresses of which you have no control.


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