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Stress is our body’s response to danger. It makes our mind more alert in order to quickly seek out threats, it tenses up our muscles in order to fight or make flight, and it makes our heartbeat quicker in order to pump blood around the body more quickly. In prehistoric times, stress helped us to get out of life-threatening situations. Nowadays we rarely face life-threatening situations. So why are we always so stressed?
In most cases, it’s because we put too much importance on things that aren’t important in the grand scheme of things. Because there are relatively few dangers in our lives, we react to everyday issues as if they are dangers.
Some of the biggest sources of stress can be managed by stepping back and gaining some perspective. This allows us to more easily come up with solutions because we’re not hyperfocused on the problem. Below are examples of some of the biggest stress triggers and how to deal with them so that you’re not so unnecessarily stressed all the time.
Worrying about not being able to pay the bills is one of the biggest causes of stress. A study found that as much as 72% of Americans had experienced stress in the last month due to financial problems.
Not being able to pay bills can be a genuine danger that can lead to homelessness, but there are so many forms of financial support that you can look into to stop it ever getting to this point. Learning to budget, getting professional help with debts and being open about financial issues with other people can help to reduce this form of stress – ignoring it or trying to solve it alone are the worst things you can do.
Pressure at work
Many of us get stressed over work deadlines and targets. Ultimately, we fear losing our jobs and not being able to sustain an income. However, the risk of losing our jobs is usually smaller than we think. In other cases, losing our job may even be the solution we need.
It’s worth spending time away from work so that you can look at your situation from a distance. Is the pressure as bad as you think it is? And if it is as bad – is it time you looked for another job? Putting up with a job that constantly pushes you beyond your limits isn’t good for your physical or mental health, even if it does mean facing unemployment temporarily. This post explains more about dealing with a high pressure job.
Conflicts with others
Conflicts with other people can vary in severity from minor friction to bullying/abuse. When it comes to relationships with a partner, stress can come from a fear of breaking up or contrastingly being trapped in a toxic relationship. When it comes to colleagues and relatives, stress can occur from a clash of values and having to force oneself to get along.
Through honest and calm communication it’s possible to resolve many conflicts with people. If this isn’t possible, you need to know when to cut off ties for your own good. Some people aren’t worth putting yourself through constant stress for.
Responsibility over loved ones
Responsibility over kids, sick relatives or elderly loved ones can often be a source of stress. The burden of having to look after these people can leave us with little time to do anything else, which can make us feel helpless as everything else starts to get neglected.
The solution to this is to simply ask others for help. Everyone needs a helping hand now and again – whether it’s hiring professional carers or getting relatives to babysit. You may even need a longer break such as letting someone look after the kids for a few days or exploring care homes for respite care. Quite often responsibility isn’t as much of a sole burden as we think it is and there are ways of sharing out the load.
Fear of social rejection
Social anxiety is a chronic and severe form of stress that stems from fear of social rejection. Some of us fear that we will be mocked for our personal appearance or not being able to communicate properly. This in turn can lead to stress in social situations.
Overcoming this form of stress involves building one’s self confidence to a point where rejection doesn’t matter. This is easier said than done, and may require therapy to work through if you have very low self esteem. This post offers more tips for dealing with social anxiety.
Big life changes
A big change like moving house or getting a new job can result in a big change of routine. This lack of familiarity can cause stress. Some of us even get stressed in the lead up to big changes, because we know we will have to give up familiar comforts in the process.
How can we reduce stress caused by big changes? Often it comes down to embracing change while remembering to take comfort in the familiar things that you may still have. There is nothing gained from regretting a change if it cannot be unchanged.
Traumatic events are one of the more valid forms of stress. It’s okay to be stressed if we’ve been in a genuinely dangerous situation. Similarly, grief from losing someone suddenly is a valid form of stress.
That said, it is important to know when to move on from traumatic events. PTSD typically refers to any long term anxiety and often requires therapy to overcome. Trying to bury your trauma is unlikely to do any good and may just cause negative feelings to build up, which could then pour out when faced with triggers.