Every now and then, we all feel overwhelmed and stressed, yet if we are not careful, even a small amount of stress can lead to ill health. A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), stress affects the mind as well as the body and is linked to illnesses such as heart disease, depression, headaches, stroke, and stomach disorders.
Humans are subject to stress, but many of the most common stressors are not worth our time or energy. Below are five factors that contribute to stress and tips for preventing it.
1. Revisiting stressful happenings
The act of replaying stressful situations repeatedly is counterproductive and could exacerbate the stress you are already feeling. What we think and what really occurs can’t be distinguished by the brain. When we are reliving or dwelling on something negative that happened in the past, our bodies will re-experience the stress response.
As a way to overcome this bad habit and change our behavior, we need to do a bit of reinterpretation of traumatic events. Sometimes it’s difficult to ignore something. Some thoughts are easier to replace. Utilizing affirmations regarding the situation by focusing on thoughts like “All is well, and I am too,” “I am healthy, I am happy,” and “I move fon easily and confidently into a positive future” can interrupt the never-ending cycle of unhealthy thought patterns. Spend some time meditating. When you inhale and exhale, think “I am” and “at peace.” This will also stop the stress response in its tracks.
2. Envisioning the worst-case scenario
The further into the future you project negative thoughts, the more likely it is that you will become depressed. Think about if the stressor is realistic and ask yourself whether it is something that will bother you in a few months’ time. This is one way to avoid worst-case scenario thinking.
A second method for avoiding worst-case scenarios is to stay in the present. When you bathe, for example, you can take the time to notice the smell of the soap, bath salts, and oils, the feel of the water, or the way the light hits the bubbles. By letting yourself get lost in the stuff you like, you’ll be less likely to dwell on the past and be more aware of the present
It is not unusual to be late for many reasons, many of which are outside of your control. In addition to tardiness, saying yes to something when you really can’t commit can contribute to tardiness. In addition to the stress you are already under as a result of being late, you may also feel angry or anxious.
Lack of time is one of the reasons you are often late, so consider whether an event or obligation fits into your schedule and know when to decline an invitation. In situations such as these, it’s important to realize that you are not in control of the cause of being late. Instead, you have the choice of how you will respond.
Learning to let go rather than beating yourself up about being late is the best way to overcome this problem. Stress can occur as a result of one’s attitude towards a situation or emotion. Determine within yourself that you will see the most possible pleasant alternative to something that would give you stress.
4. Lurking or Oversharing on Social Media
This is one of the most useless sources of stress I can think of, and unfortunately, one of the most common. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil remember? Add to that list: think no evil. Comparing yourself to others on social media leads to stress. You’re evaluating your worth and value in relation to others, not to what you consider successful and happy. It’s not worth it. Tell yourself you’re better than that and let your actions prove it to you.
We can also become more vulnerable on social media if we overshare, making ourselves more vulnerable to getting hurt. Prior to opening up, make sure people have earned your trust and respect. Create personal boundaries and limit how much time you allow yourself to check social media each day to minimize this stress.
In reality, peace has an anatomy, and so does stress. If peace had an appearance it would be neat, orderly, and organized. Clutter can represent how you are feeling and what’s happening in your life. An untidy room or a cluttered office can make us feel stressed. Turn on some music and get to organizing until you’ve had enough. Take breaks. The goal is not finding a new source of overwhelming anxiety, it is to rid yourself of one. If you are a hoarder (good luck my friend) consider asking yourself questions like “When is the last time I used this? Do I need this? Should I give this away to someone who could benefit from it more than I?” This should help you to clear a path that is easier for you to tread upon. Here’s to stepping lightly.