Stress is normal and natural. We can’t live without stress. It enables us to set and achieve goals and enjoy life. Stress is also a survival system that alerts us to danger and prepares us to meet that danger.
How we perceive what we can do and what we can’t do in life, can either energize us to accomplish goals or create unwanted stress or distress.
Any situation that we perceive as threatening, whether physically life-threatening or simply embarrassing or emotionally threatening will trigger a Fight-Flight stress response.
Stress is triggered by what we believe is happening. It is a subjective process. A loud bang in the night can send the heart racing until we discover it was the cat knocking something over.
Past experiences can trigger stress. Past traumatic and unpleasant experiences can be triggered over and over again along with all the feelings associated with it.
The more anxiety, resentment, anger and frustration we can work through and let go, the healthier we become.
The best protection against heart attacks is love. The heart that loves is free and joyful. In the expression of love, the give and take of love, we become healthier. Hanging on to resentments and past grievances do the opposite.
A low self-worth can create corrosive stress.
How you see yourself, what you feel about yourself, what you believe others think of you, etc. all have an effect on our stress levels. What are you saying to yourself about who you are? What’s your self-talk like?
Stress can become a habit. We develop habitual ways to respond to life that can be stress-laden.
If our first responses to events are consistently fear, anxiety, worry, panic you immediately put yourself into survival mode instead of a problem-solving mode. One keeps you frozen like a deer in the headlights – the other uses that concern to find solutions.
We all experience life events differently and respond to stressors differently. Stressors are anything that create some kind of response within our body.
When we interpret life events as consistently containing some kind of danger, we will constantly gear up to fight or flee. When we change our perceptions, we change our responses.
We all react to the world in different ways. We all handle the amount of stress in our lives differently. We all need a certain amount of tension to complete goals and do our every day work.
What is important for each of us is to learn what things trigger unwanted or unnecessary distress. Then we can alter our thinking to so we can use our stress energy to complete goals instead of fighting a paper tiger.
Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC