I’m trying to pay more attention to things that cause me stress and how I deal with the stress. It’s helping some to work on the self awareness, but some of the reactions seem to be baked in, very hard to change some things that I perceive as stressful. As I’ve looked at my reactions, it seems like I see two different things:
- My reaction to something that “I” perceive as stressful
- Stress is cumulative
One way to identify stress is to substitute the word frustrated. Not a perfect match, but a good way to get away from the negative connotation of ‘stress’. One example of stress for me is being on a tight but doable timeline and then having something unexpected and unrelated intrude. It’s not always as easy as pushing something back, and the instinctive stress reaction doesn’t help productivity.
Now it seems like that once the situation is over, goals met, that the stress would be gone. Instead – at least for me – it takes time for the stress to drain away. Given a few weeks of tranquility my stress index goes back to near zero, but I don’t usually get weeks, maybe days. Then when the next stressor comes along, instead of starting at zero I’m starting at 10, which makes it harder to get through the situation, and then when done without a longer recovery, maybe the next time I start a stress situation at 10 instead of 20. Over time that can really add a level of background noise/pain that hurts the ability to respond well to minor levels of stress.
I don’t know that life can be stress free. Or that it would even be healthy. But if I can see fewer things as stressful and develop methods of relieving cumulative stress, I see that as a pretty big advantage. Now to figure out how to do it!