The actual phenomenon of stress can take so many forms that we often don’t realize that we are in it until we start noticing the physical and emotional effects.
It can be difficult to give a concrete definition of stress without also describing the emotions and physical sensations that go along with it. This is because the actual phenomenon of stress can take so many forms that we often don’t realize that we are in it until we start noticing the physical and emotional effects.
To put it another way, the tense shoulders, shallow breathing, irritability, insomnia, and myriad other symptoms are not the actual problem, they are simply the warning system telling you that something is wrong. Relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises and even physical exercise, can help you cope with these red flags when they pop up, but they can’t necessarily address the actual root cause. For that you first need to understand what the actual stressor is.
What is a Stressor?
The stressor is basically the underlying situation that is causing your body to have the stress response. There are basically four categories of stressors, some of which are easier to identify and manage than others.
A survival stressor is an immediate threat to your physical safety. Survival stress can be temporary, such as a one-time run-in with an aggressive dog, or it can be on going, such daily threats of physical harm from a bully, or an abusive spouse. A survival stressor could also be a threat to your ability to get food or shelter.
An Internal stressor is a situation that you create that causes a stress reaction. This is not to say that internal stressors don’t exist, only that they are generally things that we fixate on but have no control over, or things that we could avoid but pursue anyway, such as the panic over the Ebola cases in the US.
An environmental stressor is something in your environment that keeps you in a continual state of high alert, such as living in a crowded building with noisy and disruptive neighbors. It could also include a physically or emotionally toxic work environment or family situation.
Fatigue and overwork stressors build up over time, to such a degree that they slowly become the new normal, such as a highly demanding job that requires several hours of overtime each week, or dealing with a sick family member.
Managing and Relieving the Stress
It can be very difficult to manage and relieve stress because it can often result from multiple stressors.
For example, a survival stressor, such as losing your job, could lead you create an internal stressor by overusing your credit cards to make up for the loss of income. That internal stressor could lead to a fatigue or overwork stressor as you take multiple jobs to try to make ends meet, which could then cause environmental stressors as work and home relationships suffer due to financial problems and fatigue and overwork.
In a case where there are multiple stressors, it’s important to find the common thread running throughout. In the example above, money seems to be the common thread — the loss of income, overusing credit to compensate, and ultimately not being able to make enough to pay off the debt despite being overworked.
The person in this scenario might not be able to increase his income, or undo his past spending, but he could focus on the existing debt. For example, he could research reviews and testimonials for Lexington Law, and similar companies, to find a reliable help in managing his debt and improving his credit. If the situation is really bad, he can consult with a bankruptcy lawyer to erase all or some of the debt.
Regardless of what the root cause, or common thread, once you are able to identify stress, you can take the necessary steps to address it. Once you address the underlying issue, you can then move forward to address some of the secondary issues also affecting your mental well-being.
In the scenario above, addressing and resolving the debt could reduce his need to work so many hours to make ends meet, removing the overwork and fatigue stressors. Once he has removed those stressors, he can then address the environmental stressors by focusing on improving his family relationships, and getting out of the toxic work environments. He can also focus on avoiding internal stressors by learning better money management skills.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?
Going back to school and also choosing to work for myself.
What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?
My work ethic and the determination I’ve had throughout my professional career.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?
Achieving my education at an accelerated pace. Start a family!
We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?
I can be a a little too worrisome sometimes and cause myself to become stressed out.
“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!)
Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?