How well we manage stress is important to our overall wellness and one of the key skills we need to develop in order to cope with the turbulence of life. Stress can simply be defined as any emotional or mental strain that knocks us off balance or out of our regular equilibrium in our daily life. Let’s go through some common misunderstandings that we can have about stress that make it difficult for us to effectively manage the tension.
False: Stress is the Same for Everyone
We all experience stress in different ways. There may be similarities, but what may be stressful for one person may not be stressful at all for another. Avoid falling into the trap of believing in wide-accepted stress norms, like believing that work or academics need to be stressful in order for you to improve. If you’re finding stress in something that other people seem to be unphased by, you’re okay! We all react uniquely to similar situations. Give yourself a break from unnecessary stress by taking off the burden of comparison and take the steps you need to find relief.
False: Stress is Always Bad for You
Like unpleasant emotions, stress can be an important signal to us that something may need to change or that we need to focus. Too much stress can be debilitating, but little bits can be helpful signs from our body telling our minds that something is up. When we learn to manage this information effectively, we can use our stress as something productive. When you notice yourself experiencing stress, take a moment to identify what is triggering it and reflect on why this situation is particularly sensitive for you. With a better understanding of our stress, we can begin to make more direct steps to address it.
False: The Stress-Relief Techniques that Work for Them, Should Work for Me
Stress-relief does not all look to the same. Some may find breathing techniques or meditation helpful. Some may find vigorous exercise or fast-paced activities helpful. Some may like quiet and serene sounds or loud and aggressive vocals. Figure out what works for you! Go for a drive around town, get creative with cooking, go out (or stay in!) and dance and sing, or prepare your next art project! Try the popular methods, but ultimately you decide what helps you the most and think of new ideas that suit you best.
False: Only When I Have Physical Symptoms or Major Problems Will My Stress Require Attention
Not having visible or intense symptoms does not mean you don’t have to address your stress. Little episodes of consistent stress can affect you in minor ways that can eventually lead to more serious problems. Headaches or minor aches can develop into more serious cases if the core issue is not effectively managed or resolved. If you begin to notice little symptoms, simply do small things to help you find relief. There can be major activities you do like going to a yoga session or spending time with friends, but you may just need little things like brief walks or stretches.
Take a moment and reflect on how well you manage your stress. Some of us are fortunate to have the resources to deal with a great amount of stress and some us are stretched thin where a little stress is all we can take before we snap. Evaluate your methods of coping and see if they are helpful in the long-term and promote overall wellness instead of quick stress-relief. Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out how to find peace amidst hectic seasons of stress, so don’t be afraid to reach out and find help! It may take time to find the best method for you, but in the long-run it’ll make life more manageable.
Written by therapist Daniel Pak
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