Stress Origins of Stress Daily life brings demands from many sources. A crowded space or uncomfortable temperature may stress both body and mind. An unreasonable customer or irritable child also leads to stress. Social sciences believe that environmental events can cause us to "fight or flight". Early man who had to hunt for his food had to be on guard to either protect himself from threat or attack to be able to have what to eat. This high level of alertness also known as the fight or flight response is a natural survival instinct. Nevertheless, responding to threats or perceived threats impacts our physiological and psychological systems. When environmental stressors are too frequent and intense damage can occur both to mind and body. The result is a condition known as distress.
Symptoms of Stress Excess anxiety, severe sadness, angry outbursts, and other extreme psychological response are signs of distress. Physical responses to stress can be digestive problems, poor sleep, fatigue, rapid heart beat and skin problems. Stress has been linked to many diseases such cardiac problems and asthma.
Perceptions and Stress Related Problems The event or situation does not determine how an individual will manage stressful events. More important is the perception of the event. Having to speak with your boss is not what causes the stress, but it is your perception of the encounter. Some people are very frightened of flying and will be quite tense throughout the entire flight. While other passengers are calm and sleep most of the flight. Our perceptions of an event will determine the degree of stress or distress we experience. The more apprehension about a person or event the more stress.
Personal Responses to Stressful Events Our feelings, thoughts and behaviors either improve or decrease our ability to deal with stressors in our environment.
Feelings: Our feelings or emotions are the way our body responds to internal and external events. If you are upset by something some has said your muscles may get tight or you may have a sour sensation in your stomach. If you are elated by a compliment you may feel light and comfortable. Being able to reduce body tension when faced with challenges will improve your ability to manage stress. When a dispute erupts the more relaxed your body is the more likely you will cope effectively with the dispute. Learning to monitor bodily tension and practicing relaxation will reduce stress.
Thoughts: What you say to yourself has much to do with how you will handle a difficult situation. If you meet with he boss and you get criticized what you think will determine how uptight you become. If you say "this is impossible and I just can't take this anymore", You may become tense and angry. However, If you think, "I can cope with this and I will resolve this issue, then you may be more calm. An old Chinese proverb says “Change your thoughts on you, change your world.”. Likewise Shakespeare in Hamlet tells us “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” . The ability to emote coping thoughts when faced with difficulties will reduce stress while increasing your ability to manage stressful life events.
Behavior: How you interact and communicate with others will have a significant impact on managing stress. There are three categories of interacting that effect your well-being:
Passive: Not speaking up about a problem situation will cause you to internalize your tension and anger. Passive or unassertive individuals are known to have more stress related illnesses such as headaches, stomach problems and cardiac disorders. If you keep in long enough you may eventually explode.
Aggressive: Being argumentative and bullying others may help you get your way. Nevertheless, you may not have many healthy relationships and others may avoid you. Aggressive behavior often leads to conflicts and complications. Being aggressive Being hostile and tough will demean your relationships. Research has shown that having supportive relationships reduces stress and improves the quality of life.
Assertive Being able to quiet listen to others and express your feelings in calm and respectful fashion improves communication and reduces stress. Negotiating an acceptable solution to a problem situation reduces stress and improves relationships. Even when things don't go your way, you will feel you have tried your best and others involved in the situation will walk away respecting you.