“If the problem can be solved why worry? If the problem cannot be solved worrying will do you no good.” ― Śāntideva
Last week’s post generated some great discussion about ‘worry’ being a good or bad thing. The great thing is it may have started to shift your perception of worry. And you know what? Feelings can be controlled, and this is no different for worry.
I’d like to share some new insights from last week’s comments, including:
- Time constraints can lead to a level of worry or stress that generates action and productivity. This is a positive side effect (thanks, Vincent and Trev).
- We are able to control our worry or stress levels and utilise it to our advantage (thanks, Amit and Steve)
- Humans have feelings for a reason and this is the same for worry and stress. There is a reason you feel like this, for protection or for action. You can use it to your advantage (thanks, Shawn and Steve)
- Being able to control your worry and use it for good can also generate a level of confidence (Thanks, Amit)
Today, however I’d like to take this conversation to the next phase of worry and look more closely at that word we all dread so much but perhaps feel on a daily basis. This word is so universal and can be so inhibiting that I’m going to spread this topic over two posts. What is that word?
P.S. Is this not the coolest image ever? 🙂
What Exactly is Stress?
I’ve been doing some research on stress and to my surprise I’ve discovered a whole new dimension to what it actually is. So, what is stress? It’s not as clear and simple as you might think.
On first inspection of what stress is, I discovered that it can be broken down into different types, including:
- Time stress (worrying about time or the lack thereof)
- Anticipatory stress (being concerned about the future)
- Situational stress (being in a scary situation you have no control over)
- Encounter stress (worrying about interacting with a certain person or group of people)
This is a common way of thinking about stress. It’s about an emotional state.
However, delving deeper into the topic I discovered that stress is not only limited to the emotional. This in itself is an important concept to understand when it comes to managing stress.
For instance, Paul Check in his book “How to Eat, Move and be Healthy” describes 6 different types of stress. These are:
1) Physical Stress (eg hard workout, surgery bad posture)
2) Nutrional Stress (eg eating processed foods, eating too much or too little, insufficient intake of fats, proteins or carbs).
3) Chemical Stress (eg alchohol, drugs, medications, cleaning products, some beauty products).
4) Emotional Stress (eg fear, worries, anxiety, not living your dream, dysfunctional relationships).
5) Electromagnetic Stress (eg electrical towers, mobile phones)
6) Thermal Stress (eg sunburn or hypothermal)
Now, when we think of stress we normally associate it with the ‘emotional’ state of stress, however it’s important to recognise the other forms of stress. Apparently your adrenals (the glands that produce our stress hormones) can’t tell the difference between the different types of stress.
What this basically means is that your body can’t actually tell the difference between an argument with your partner (emotional) and you forgetting to eat all day (nutritional) and you going for a 20km run (physical) and you lying on the beach all day without sunscreen (thermal).
This may seem all a little strange, however the above is important to note for when you are trying to MANAGE your stress levels. I’ll get to that in a bit.
Why Are Some People Impacted By Stress More Than Others?
Did you know that 90% of your beliefs and your programming are instilled in you before you are 9 years old?
This then has significant impact over the way that each of us deal with stress. It’s due to our prior experiences, and largely due to our experiences in our early years of life.
Let’s look at an example of 2 similar aged people dealing with the same experience and having different stress levels.
A 5 year old boy has a mother who when she sees a spider screams and runs and tells her son to watch out for the spider.
On the other hand, another 5 year old boy has a mother who has a pet spider and is really intrigued about what they can do and educates her son about the spider.
20 years down the track when these boys are now 25 years old, how do you think each person would react if they saw a spider in their room?
The stress levels of the two boys (now men) would be vastly different.
This is the same for other areas of stress in our lives.
For example, if you easily get stressed about public speaking, this would largely be due to your prior experiences (or lack of experience) in doing this. This is the same when you are completing an exam or going into a situation which you may not have been in before.
Simply put, the more you do something, the more comfortable you become with that object or experience. You start to develop neural pathways that can manage your emotional state due to prior experience.
To get a little technical, we perceive the world through our 5 senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste). These senses get filtered to our hypothalamus which is a part of our brain. If we perceive a stress, then this hypothalamus then communicates with our glands to release stress hormones.
What does this mean for you?
Your beliefs can control your levels of stress.
And how are beliefs formed? They are formed through your prior experiences.
Again, managing stress comes back to taking control of your mind and building your emotional intelligence. This is obviously easier said than done. But in my next post I’ll have some great techniques for you to help you manage your stress.
Next week I’m going to share with you some of the best techniques that I personally use for managing stress. But for now, how does stress form in your life? Do you feel the differences between the different types of stress? If you are currently facing stress, what situations are you in that creates this?
Knowing this is all part of building your emotional intelligence and your self-awareness… the building blocks of being able to manage your stress.
Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
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wonderful read and very important for all of us ,without my experiences with stress I would not know where I would be right now .I really have learned how to properly manage and use it dearly to my advantage,as it has been put your beliefs will decide your faith with stress.Which is why this quote is so popular “belief kills ,belief cures”
Stress often comes from fear and for most this can be debilitating experience preventing them from truly getting the most out of life. Successful people tend to use fear as a positive emotion that pumps them up and propels them forward.
Noteworthy post Brendan. I discovered some more causes of Stress from your post. I really appreciate your effort in creating this story.
Thank you very much for this information rich post.
I think it is also important to note the positive effects of stress/tension in our lives not just distress. Often referred to as eustress it is all about the reaction to a situation rather than the situtation.
Adopting the right attitude and mindset can transform a negative stress into a positive one 🙂
I believe that without stress in our lives we would never achieve anything substantial. For me the importance is in reducing emotional tensions and increasing creative tension.
You’re on the money. Stress in itself has it’s use as all emotions do. Even just knowing this little fact can help start to put some positivity into the story. Stress by nature is quite damaging as it’s a heightened level of tension and worry. However if you can learn to manage it then indeed you can definitely transform it into positive energy for getting things done.
A good example of this is when a deadline gets closer and our stress levels start to increase…. the result? So does our productivity! 🙂
You are right Brendan, there are so many things in my own life that would never get down without a little stress 🙂
Well, I too have the usual list of daily stresses and have found the inner work necessary to eliminate limiting core beliefs to be invaluable and well worth the effort.
My 25+ years of daily meditation is also a stress slayer. As is endeavoring to maintain my consciousness in the seat of the soul as the witness to the stress, and related stressful thoughts and feelings. This way I can stay behind the stress and not get sucked into its energy, which avoids compounding it. Whatever techniques we employ, it’s an inside job!
25 years of meditation I’m sure has done you wonders! To be honest, I’ve never really got into meditation but I’m highly aware of the substantial benefits from doing so.
Whatever technique we employ, it’s an inside job. You’ve got that right!
Much as I hate to say this, I think age is also a factor. When we’re younger we tend to be braver – at least I know I sure was. The older we get the more we have to lose if/when things go wrong, so that in itself can ramp up stress levels.
Great to see you here! Interesting that you say that age is a factor. This might link into Kris’ comment above regarding social conditioning. When we’re younger we’re less conditioned. Also, you’re right in that there is more to lose… I miss the days of being waited upon day and night by my parents and not having a care in the world! 🙂
Such is life. But there’s always ways to manage the stress.
Do you have literature about when many stressers come together and form a meltdown, causing a recluse situation. I feel this is a major issue not addressed because its blamed on so many other conditions.
Currently, stress in my life comes mainly from touchy family relationships and building a career. I guess this will be termed emotional stress on your list. I think you have a good point there about the relationship between stress and beliefs. Certainly, I do so see that much of my discomfort comes from some deep beliefs that has built up over decades of social conditioning. I find that meditating helps me become more aware and less stressed out. I do look forward to your follow-up post, whenever you get a chance. Thanks for sharing.
You’re not alone. Some of the most common forms of stress are due to career pressures and relationships. Social conditioning has a huge effect on our emotions.
I’m glad that you meditate. This is a truly great way of managing stress.
An excellent post Brendan. Very good insight on the causes of Stress. Considering todays life style stess is bound to increase. I am heading to read your next post on how to manage stress.
Thank you very much for this information rich post.
Thanks for the input Solomano!
Today’s world definitely fosters stress given the increased work hours and pressure put on families. Hopefully some of the strategies provided next week can assist.
Interesting post. You’re right, the more we expose ourselves to a certain stressor, the less stress it eventually causes. This is how we can train ourselves to handle certain situations. And why it’s vitally important to get out and dive into new experiences and adventures as often as you can.
Otherwise you end up living life as a safety-first hermit.
Stress isn’t something to be avoided . . . just something to be managed. If you can learn that trick, then you’ll find that stress ceases to hold you back and, instead, propels you forward.
Looking forward to part 2 Brendan.
Niiceeee quote! I love it…”stress isn’t something to be avoided…. just something to be managed’. You’re exactly right because absolutely every person on this planet experiences stress, however it’s those that know how to deal with it more effectively are those that don’t let it overtake their emotions to a larger degree.
Experience, experience, experience. Definitely one of the best preventions of stress!
A lot of the people in my life seems to be stressful no matter what they’re doing. You’re right, it is about the beliefs. I could be doing a lot more than my friends and family but I wouldn’t let the stress get to me at all. If anything, it affects me for a second until I regain composure. It’s all in the mindset and if you don’t let it get to you mentally, you’ll be all good.
The majority of the time when I do actually feel stressed, it’s because I want to get more done. I don’t ever want to put my work down, but then I realize the fun is in the journey. If I complete whatever goal today, where’s the fun for tomorrow? When I look at it like that, the stress dissolves.
The fun is indeed in the journey. It always gets to me how people spend so much of their time ‘earning a dollar’ or doing something for a benefit that will come so far down the track. Now, delayed gratification is actually a good thing, however the journey also has to be enjoyable.