Have you ever noticed how the causes of stress are implied by the definition of stress?
More importantly, can the words and phrases that you use to define stress help you better understand and cope with your stress?
I believe the ways you define stress often keep you from coping as well as you might.
Of course, coping effectively with stress starts with identifying the causes of stress.
However, many of the words and phrases that are commonly used when defining stress tend to get in your way when you are trying to cope well.
Let's consider how stress is typically defined. Too often, in my opinion, stress is defined as your reaction to a big problem. One article that I recently read used phrases like how you respond when your survival is threatened, what happens when you understand a situation to be harmful, and the way you react to an attack.
They imply that all stressors are BIG PROBLEMS.
you think the causes of stress have to threaten your physical survival or bring you a lot of pain to qualify as stressors, then you will not recognize many more subtle stressors as being stressful.
Frequently, I will have clients and workshop participants list the stressors in their lives. They most always talk about the big problems such as...
...to think of them as any task or challenge that you must deal with - big or small, positive or negative.
Yes, positive tasks and challenges are also stressful.
These could include things like...
This last one happened at my house a few days ago. It took a whole 90 seconds to fix the problem; nevertheless, it was another task to complete and, thus, a stressor.
As I am typing this, I am beginning to notice that I am getting uncomfortably hot. It's not a big deal. All I have to do is turn on the ceiling fan above my desk. Time required: 10 seconds max, but I have to stop, stand up, and do it. It breaks my concentration. It is a task to complete, thus, a stressor.
These little mini-stressors happen all day long.
We can learn a lesson about why mini-stressors are important from the events of January 15, 2009. That is when Captain Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles were forced to land an Airbus A320 into the Hudson River.
Multiple bird strikes caused the jet's engines to fail. Flying into a bird is unlikely to bring down an Airbus. But flying into a flock of birds can and did.
The same is true of these small stressors. One or two will have little impact. But encountering one after another all day long can cause you to become totally stressed-out.
Knowing this can help you protect yourself from the cumulative impact of these frequently occurring mini-stressors. Throughout the day, you can do things to bring your stress level down like...
By using these mini-stress relievers throughout the day, you can keep stress from building up to the point that it is a BIG PROBLEM.
What is your favorite mini-stress reliever?
Do you have children? Here is a great video to watch with them to help them learn how to deal with stress. If you don't have children, watch it anyway; you may learn a thing or two yourself.