There is a common law of self-development: identifying a problem is an important first step. The sooner you are able to discover what is not working or what is causing suffering, the sooner you can create a path forward. Whether it’s discovering how you’re holding yourself back, uncovering unhealthy coping mechanisms, or noticing how your environment affects your health, identifying the problem is the start of finding a solution.
This brings us to stress. Everyone experiences stress. It seems that in our rapidly changing world, stress is inevitable and chronic.
There is a prevailing sense of urgency due to the technology that always keeps us going. In addition to personal stressors, the majority of Americans report overwhelming levels of stress due to global issues such as the pandemic, supply chain issues, rising cost of living, the plight of the economy and ongoing global conflicts.
Stress is defined as emotional or physical pressure. Knowing what kind of stress is affecting you at any given time offers you another kind of solution. The four types of stress, identified by Dr. Karl Albrecht in his book Stress and the Manager, provide a basis for identifying the problem. The four types of stress are time constraint, anticipatory stress, situational stressand encounter stress. Let’s explore them in more detail.
The constant ticking of the clock is a huge cause of stress. The weight of the future, the next minute, the next hour, week, month or year, can create a lot of internal pressure. Time stress is the feeling that there is not enough time in the day to accomplish everything you need to accomplish. send all emails, complete all projects, run all errands, complete all to-do list items. When applied to your whole life – not having enough time to accomplish meaningful goals, or making the most of the time you have, this enters into time anxiety territory.
Although one of the most common causes of stress, time-related stress is one of the most manageable. Unless you have your own time machine or speed-dial Dr. Who, you’re unlikely to be able to bend time itself. However, you can tackle the practical causes of stress. Some degree of this is cognitive – anxious thoughts or worries about the repercussions of not doing everything. But the majority of that stress is alleviated by better tools for time management, structuring, and planning.
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Ask yourself, how can I set clear boundaries so that I don’t take on too much? Am I organizing my time appropriately? Do I need to be clearer with my priorities? What are the absolutely essential things, and how can I reorganize myself to ensure they are addressed first? Consider applying different time management tools.
For most people, however, time management alone is not enough. You have to dig below the surface to see what beliefs or emotions fuel poor time management. For example, people-pleasing, due to low self-esteem or guilt mechanisms, can lead to over-commitment. Or perfectionism could make you more likely to strive to do everything when it’s not reasonable to do so.
Anticipation stress is, as the name suggests, stress caused by the anticipation of an upcoming event, or an abstract fear of the future, such as worrying about the economy or life changes. coming. In a study Starting in May of this year, a team of researchers from North Carolina State University wanted to explore the role of anticipatory stress in elections. They found that not only do elections elicit anticipatory stress, but the degree to which people expect to be stressed is related to their stress level. In other words, people have become stress-stressed.
“There are real emotional consequences for things that haven’t even happened yet – and may not happen at all – simply because we expect them to happen.study author Shevaun Neupert, echoing the words of Mark Twain’s famous quote:I have been through terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.“In this particular study, the authors found that the more prepared people were, the lower their stress levels.
Part of dealing with anticipatory stress is coming back to the present, whenever possible, through mindfulness and meditation. Whenever the pressure of the future builds, work to channel it into a more positive light and know that the vision of the future is a mirage. General relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and visualization, can help manage anticipated stress. If you can identify a tangible event, be prepared and make sure you do everything you can to be ready.
There is also a feedback loop with anticipatory stress. The more faith you develop that you will be able to handle stress, by dealing with it in the present, the less likely you are to fear it in the future. Like the paradoxes taught by Eastern philosophy, the less you resist stress, the less intense it becomes.
Sometimes stress is not caused by time anxiety or anticipation of the future, but by your current life situation or environment. Situational stress is unavoidable to some degree, which is not a bad thing — some level of stress is healthy and necessary to optimal performance. But if you find yourself in a situation that causes chronic stress or some type of emergency, it can have a significant impact on your central nervous system and your level of well-being.
Examples of situational stress include a difficult work environment, difficulties or conflicts in your home life, or supporting a loved one during illness. Even things like noise, crowds, or lack of closeness to nature, air quality, and light can cause different kinds of stress in the body.
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The first step with situational stress is to ask yourself: is it possible or reasonable to change my environment? If you are in a chronically stressful situation, such as a difficult work environment, it is worth considering leaving the environment altogether or changing your relationship with the environment. If that’s not possible, other ways to deal with situational stress include emotional regulation, grounding, communication skills (to reduce conflict), or setting boundaries.
Unless you live in a cave, you will meet other people. And unless you’re a saint, you’ll probably be annoyed by them once in a while. Dating stress is tied to interactions with other people, either because the interactions themselves are overwhelming, full of conflict or other interpersonal difficulties, or simply beyond your capacity. This captures the full spectrum of stress induced by how you interact with others, including close friends, family, acquaintances or strangers.
We all have some ability to contain other people’s emotions, to listen carefully, or to simply have a healthy level of social interaction.
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Part of calming dating stress is figuring out if you’re in balance, with the time you need alone and the time you need to socialize. Think about which relationships cause stress and which relationships relax you. Are there any patterns you can detect?
Knowing your own needs and limitations is an important step, the next is to communicate them. Be discerning in your relationships and know which behaviors or traits are not tolerable. Whether we are introverted or extroverted, we all need human interaction. But as messy, imperfect humans, there’s always the potential for some level of relationship stress, especially in more intimate relationships.
Stress, when viewed as a monumental and overwhelming task, becomes something to be feared. But the four types of stress show, under this label, many different factors at play. By identifying the nature of your stressors, you can begin to find concrete solutions. Managing stress is an ongoing process, and often a dance between working inside and managing your environment. But with patience, compassion, and knowing which tools to apply when, you will evolve into a less stressful life.