Everybody’s going through a lot of stress these days, no matter how well off you are and how many advantages you have, it’s a stressful time in everybody’s lives. ~ Chris Frantz
Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started. ~ David Allen
Stress. We ALL talk about it. We ALL claim to have it. Many of us take pride in the amount of stress we are under, as though it is a measure of our martyrdom to our families and society. BUT, what are we DOING about this stress? Do we believe it is an issue? Are we taking active measures to reduce and resolve the stress in our lives?
I have found that people tend who suffer from stress tend to fall into two categories:
1. Those who thrive on their stress and take pride in it. In these cases, the stress is used to get positive or negative attention (i.e.: see how wonderful I am, that I am willing to subject myself to all of this stress!)
2. Those who hate stress and are drug down by it. These individuals can use stress for negative attention (i.e.: looking for sympathy, someone to take care of them, etc.)
Furthermore, It seems that people have two reactions towards their stress:
1. Those who really want to reduce their stress (these may be people who love or hate the stress).
2. People who are not really interested in reducing their stress, due to the personal gain they get from it. (Note, personal gain from stress can be the attention they receive when complaining about said stress.)
Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one. ~ Hans Selye
The quote by Selye is so true. We will all be subject to stress in our lives. Some of that stress will be self-induced (such as obtaining a new job) and some will be forced upon us (such as a sudden health issue we must contend with). In either case, our personal attitudes will greatly affect the way the situation progresses.
Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy and rewarding life. ~ Marilu Henner
I also agree with Henner. We are a society full of people who need to be in control. I often talk about the fact that I do not necessarily need control over others in my life, but I want control over myself and my personal circumstances. When we lose this control, or at least lose the illusion that we are in control, our stress levels can increase. As Henner mentions, if we can feel that we are in control and if we are able to create and maintain REALISTIC goals for ourselves, it will help us manage and soothe the stress in our daily lives.
Some people, such as William James, think stress is a game of mind over matter. He said, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” I must admit that I have personally seen the truth in this statement. I have watched people who seem to live life from one crisis to another. It seems that these individuals choose to interpret their own realities differently from those who are not constantly in crisis mode. Obviously, they feel they are getting something out of their crisis (usually attention) and they can even work to maintain their constant crisis. I have seen individuals come to this realization and greatly change, and even drastically reduce, the stress they felt. When they learned that they could gain attention and self-worth in ways other than from experiencing crisis and labeling themselves a constant victim, they thrived on the new positive ways to obtain attention (such as through volunteer work, completing a new degree, etc.)
To further this line of thinking, I will leave you with a quote from Catherine Pulsifer: “How we perceive a situation and how we react to it is the basis of our stress. If you focus on the negative in any situation, you can expect high stress levels. However, if you try to see the good in the situation, your stress levels will greatly diminish.”
Today, 310 days ’til 40, I will seek to remember that I am a key ingredient when it comes to the stress in my own life. First and foremost, the way I react to the circumstances in my life correlates strongly with the amount of stress I experience. My attitude makes a difference. Second, I must remember to actively seek ways to reduce stress in my life. Some stress can be a good thing, and even healthy as it can promote personal growth and achievement, but too much stress can be counterproductive and unhealthy. I will strive to live that balance. I hope and pray you do too.