Archive | March, 2013

What is it about stress?

16 Mar

I’ve been thinking lately a lot about stress. Probably because I’ve been more stressed these past few months than I have in a very long time. Apparently, I’m not the only one – a recent study found that my generation, the Millennials, are way more stressed out than previous generations (thank you recession!).

What I’ve really been trying to understand is why we get stressed, rather than the reasons for why we are. There are a million things that happen to us each day that can rattle our nerves. Traffic, exams, deadlines, family drama, you name it. Yet, some individuals simply do not let it affect them, and some are quite easily affected. It’s almost as though the only prevention is changing your own expectations, rather than specific circumstances around you (unless you just happen to be in the most frustrating job or relationship of your life, and then yes, the external piece matters).

A friend recently said to me, “I am just going to make a decision to not be stressed”. If you think about it, simple words, but extremely powerful. So I’ve tried to put into practice lately. I haven’t always been successful, but the times that I have been, it works almost like magic.

I am a chronic over-thinker. I can over-think, over-analyze, over-discuss just about anything under the sun. I have, however, started to think a few times before making a decision about how worried I am going to be about something. I just make a decision in my head saying, this is not going to bother me. And believe it or not, it actually helps instantly. It most certainly does not make the problem go away. But it does make it more manageable.

The only downside to this is laziness. Why of all things laziness? Well, stress can actually be a fantastic motivator. It propels action like no other mechanism I know, save deep, unrelenting passion for something. However, say it isn’t something that is absolutely enthralling to you. There is a chance that you can “de-stress” a problem away, so much so that when time comes to deliver, your calm demeanor has led to zero results. But to me, this has more to do with time management than a stress-free life.

What are some other things that are helping? Yoga has actually been a welcome change in my routine. I’m certainly not great at it, but I find that the breathing helps decompress and center in a way like nothing else. Hot yoga? That’s a different story (short version: no thanks). Reading each night before bed rather than checking my phone (although I’m guilty of that a lot). And Stickies – I am rediscovering my love for the sticky to-do list. Overall, there are some ways to minimize some of the self-inflicted damage we do to ourselves, and keep what little elasticity we have for stress to those events completely out of our control.