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Holistic-online.com stress-management

[Stress Home Page][Holistic-online Home]

Origins of Stress

Stress can often originate from sources we hardly ever associate with it. Let me illustrate:

Imagine that you just bought your dream car. It is that Jaguar. You had to scrape everything you had to buy it. You wanted to take it for a spin. It is a sunny spring day. You turned the stereo on, the top down and cruise merrily on the interstate. Isn’t life wonderful?

You suddenly hear screeching noises in front. On no! The drivers in front of you are all slamming on their brakes. You see that each car is coming within split seconds of rear ending the one in front.

Within seconds the stress of the situation enters your mind through your eyes and ears. Your mind or brain immediately takes over (Before you can even say Oh No! Not my new car!) The middle and lower part of your brain electrically triggers a massive fight or flight response.

Your legs slam on the brake. You grip the steering wheel and try to straighten it. Your body dumps sugars and fats into your bloodstream for quick energy and strength. Other chemicals released by the brain prepare your blood to clot more quickly, to reduce the possible blood loss in case of an anticipated accident. You feel your heart pounding in your chest and temples. Your brain is receiving more oxygen to sharpen your senses and coordination.

The loud screeches around you haven’t stopped yet. In your rearview mirror, you see a car approaching your car fast. You know the driver won’t be able to stop the car in time to avoid hitting your vehicle. You go through a sudden anxiety and helpless feeling. You cannot do anything about it. Your brain sends more chemicals to your bloodstream. These chemicals help you to keep alert for an extended period of time. Finally it all stopped. Thank God, you have escaped with minor injuries. But your brand new Jaguar is totaled!

What you had just undergone is how stress works and how we cope with it. This is an example of a stress that was triggered by events or stimuli from outside your body. Other examples of stress that results from outside events are job related stress (such as when your boss gives you unreasonable jobs, working with unreasonable customers), relationship induced stress (such as marital problems, death of a spouse, divorce), money problems (such as when all bills come due in January and you don’t have money to pay for it), etc.

In the example cited above, when you think of the accident, you get stressed. Some people get a stress attack when they drive near the spot of the accident. This type of stress is called mind stressor. The origin of the stress, in this case, is within you.

You go home finally. You are so upset you cannot sleep. Your muscles are very tense. Now you start worrying about your inability to sleep or about you body aches and pains. This creates more stress. See how this is triggering a domino effect. If you don’t do something about it soon enough you can die.

Stress can also originate from emotional and psychological causes. For example, thinking of such an accident or a pending IRS audit will make people anxious; many find it difficult to sleep. Then they worry about not getting enough sleep and how they will go to work without sleep. And so on. One stressful event leads to another and, if we don't control it, the domino effect kicks in.

Even joyous events, such as a wedding, a job promotion, buying a new home, or the birth of a child, can cause much stress. You also might get stressed out if you cannot achieve a particular goal or satisfy a certain wish. For instance, you may want very much to have a child but cannot conceive. Fertility tests can't elucidate any reasons for this, and you feel very frustrated-why is this happening to you? Certainly this is a very emotional issue-and one that you do not have much control over-that can cause much stress in your life.

Stress also exists in tandem with the pressure you feel when you perceive that negative consequences are attached to your actions. For instance, you might feel pressured to maintain a certain level of performance at work or else risk getting fired. If you find yourself thinking in this way, you should stop and consider whether the threat is real or if you are just being too hard on yourself. You might be able to control and even eliminate this kind of stress from your life.

Stress also stems from conflict, which is not always negative, For instance, a conflict could occur in having to choose between two positive goals of equal value, such as choosing between two excellent job offers. Or your conflict could involve a choice that has both a positive and negative outcome, such as you're getting married but it necessitates your moving across the country away from family and friends.

Numerous life events-such as: the death of a family member or friend, the loss of a job, buying a house or moving, and having a child, cause stress. Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, developed a list of major life stressors. These are listed in descending order below, beginning with the most stressful event: 
bullet Death of a spouse
bullet Divorce
bullet Marital separation
bullet Imprisonment
bullet Death of a close relative
bullet Personal injury or illness
bullet Marriage
bullet Fired from a job
bullet Marital reconciliation
bullet Retirement
bullet Illness of a relative
bullet Pregnancy
bullet Sexual problems
bullet Birth or adoption
bullet Business readjustment
bullet Change in financial status
bullet Death of a close friend
bullet Change to different work
bullet Increased arguments with spouse
bullet Mortgage or loan for major purchase
bullet Foreclosure on mortgage or loan
bullet Change in job responsibilities
bullet Child leaving home
bullet Problems with in-laws
bullet Outstanding personal achievement
bullet Spouse begins or stops work
bullet Begin or end school
bullet Change in living conditions
bullet Changing personal habits
bullet Problems with your boss
bullet Change in work hours/conditions
bullet Change in residence or school
bullet Recreation
bullet Church or social activities
bullet Mortgage or loan for smaller purchase
bullet Change in sleeping habits
bullet Change in family gatherings
bullet Change in eating habits
bullet Vacation
bullet Christmas
bullet Minor law violations

Next Topic: Our Body’s Reaction to Stress (General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS))

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