Have you ever felt stressed?
If you’re alive (a prerequisite to reading words) then I’m going to assume yes. And therefore you’ve definitely been stressed before.
In fact, the word itself is a highly useful tool for people because it allows us to define what stress is and what stress isn’t, so we have a mutual understanding of it without complication or misunderstanding.
We can feel the symptoms of stress and think to ourselves…OK…that is stress, I am stressed.
Which then allows us to do something about it.
But if we aren’t actually able to label something as stress then we can’t do anything, or at least it becomes more difficult to do so.
Recognising stress is the first key stage.
This is where your self efficacy comes in, your self control and castle boundaries.
Now, stress isn’t actually as clearly defined as you might assume. There’s the adult world of work related stress which is the most commonly mentioned it seems.
What is your immediate reference to the idea of stress?
Feelings of low energy, agitation, anxiety, poor memory and a lack of clear thinking are fairly common with various other symptoms too.
Something less mentioned relating to stress are breathing difficulties and ‘stress arthritis’.
The amazing thing with stress is that just by virtue of not being able to breathe well and getting enough oxygen in the body, we become more stressed! Let’s look into breathing a little more.
Stressor indicators tell us to do something about the current situation or life situation that we’re in.
Your body is communicating with you the only way it knows how, by making breathing more difficult which is meant to make you react in a way that resolves the physiological and or mental strain.
When we don’t react to the signals or become blunted to their effect, that’s when burnout can occur or a nervous breakdown, much maligned but actually quite common.
The idea is of course not to allow ourselves to get to breaking point. I mentioned this previously in regards to change if a person is ready for it.
Just by taking a deep breath sometimes, can be enough to remind our system that it will receive oxygen and that can be enough to prevent physiological panic mode.
You can go the meditation route with or without breathing exercises, or just don’t get stressed as much – I sort of jest here as the aim is to get less stressed and worried about events as you gain life experience.
Some things that stressed me when I was younger no longer stress me now.
It’s like a behavioural immunity response. By trial and error, unimportant things can be recategorised as just that – unimportant to me, therefore not worth worrying about.
‘Worth’ is a key word here too. If something is not worth worrying about, it literally has no value.
If something is worth worrying about and having consternation over, then it’s likely important at that time and it is worth spending time to resolve it.
With experience, something that was considered a headache may become redundant.
But watch out for repetitive patterns that are like an apathetic tennis player – they serve no purpose. That’s the old viruses running in the background, what those are are only known to you unless you deal with them or bring them to light through talking and sharing them.
Feeling it in Your Bones?
Regarding stress arthritis, that’s an effect from low blood oxygen and poor circulation because the body is in a physiological state of arousal, likely over-adrenalysed. Which goes back to the breathing issue. We need to breathe well to feel well.
With stress arthritis, you’ll notice your bones and joints in particular will feel painful as a result of inflammation.
Arthritis is usually seen as something that older people suffer from, or athletes, but that’s not necessarily the case. Some forms of acute arthritis are present even in children from various conditions.
Stress arthritis will come and go with severity affected by the stress levels and when breathing is poor.
Just getting out of a chair for example might cause some mild pain (depending on your pain threshold) and you may hear cracking and popping from joints.
It’s a good time to take stock, to find some ways to relax and avoid any strenuous exercise risking injury or aggravating any current conditions. As well as eliminating the stressor(s) as much as possible.
Now, a double bind of stress can be that you feel more stressed because you recognise you are stressed!
Avoid that by accepting how you feel, by tuning into what your body is telling you. If reality feels like a slap in the face I suggest you wake up. There’s no point lying to your self that you’re not stressed when you are, that’s just dumb.
Some situations may call for a prolonged adaptation to stress, but it is not a good long term option if at all avoidable.
Continued stress will take years off your life. Which – again, might cause you to feel stressed.
Again, deal with the issue.
Pay attention to it. Actively plan a way to manage it. There’s lots of talk about managing stress – that’s the wrong terminology. It should be about eliminating stress, avoiding stress and learning how to not become stressed.
There’s plenty of ways to overcome stress, many will be particular to you, so it’s an investigative journey but there’s also heaps of great methods out there just a search away.
And ask your self: are the current stress or stressors worth your time and presence?
If you’re currently stressed from reading the above, the genius of Graham Linehan’s IT Crowd might reduce any stress you are experiencing through the medium of comedy.