Assessing Stress….

Somewhat serious content alert. Okay, this isn’t a bubbly Easter greeting, but due to a couple of different situations, I’ve recently been giving extra thought to the stress that impacts our lives. Perhaps more accurately, I’ve been thinking of how our responses to stressors affect us. The Serenity Prayer really does capture the essence of need to differentiate what we can and can’t control. As humans, we can easily get tangled up between the two. I’m not talking about the far ends of the behavioral spectrum when someone frequently plunges into depression or total denial when an individual refuses to accept there’s a problem to deal with.  The focus for this post is the “normal range” of people who face our modern lives with lots of demands.

Bad things happen to good people and those, in general, are things we can’t control. There are, however, plenty of stressors in our lives that we have some measure of control over, yet don’t necessarily exercise that control or recognize the temporary nature of the stressor. An example that covers both these situations is when we overcommit. I’ve written before about my reluctance to say, “No”, to requests and while I have gotten a little better, what seems to work best is for me to try and “lump” my overcommitting so it’s a tough stretch for a given period, then I can recharge. It might not be the right solution for other people, but the point is to find what works for you as an individual. And that leads into a much trickier issue.

Most of us overreact at times and might need someone to help us put things into perspective. There are people though who seem to seek stress and want to pull others into the same degree of frenzy. This is where we sometimes have to step back and say, “Hmm, do I need this?”  When you’re around incredibly “high maintenance” individuals, it can be somewhat contagious and you might find yourself responding with more drama to something than you otherwise would. This is where you can decide to pull away and either come up with a plausible excuse or be candid (which might also cause you stress) and accept that the other individual/individuals might never understand why. Again, most of us deal with enough stress on a regular basis and metaphorically speaking, it can be like cleaning out that closet where you’ve been shoving things in until you can barely close the door. If someone or something is crowding out your “comfortable emotional space” it may be time to get the big garbage bags out or at least box things up to give to charity.

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