From the ListenTruly.com BlogWhat Causes High Stress for Everyday People
Sunday, August 12, 2018
by Mubeena, Founder at ListenTruly.com
Stress is a part of life. This edict is too readily accepted. In this article, I cover the most stress-inducing issues that cut across culture, background, nationality and race. These come up time and again in my Listening sessions with clients and I think it is high time that a new response to stress is forged that does not rely on panic or anxiety.
Stress comes in all forms. Surprisingly, a lot of folk think that stress is actually good for you. Let me be uber clear on this. Stress isn’t a good thing. Stress is still the number one cause of most illnesses, mental health problems, heart disease and the ability to recover fully from any kind of physical or emotional trauma. If it isn’t good for you, then why does it exist?
Let me explain this a little through the lens of human evolution. Back in prehistoric times, we weren’t that different from the animal world. The beasts of our planet use a flight or fright response when confronted by predators who want to have them for lunch. While this response mechanism came about to give our animals the best chance to survive in the wild, its remnants are still present in human beings.
Panic, anxiety, depression and fear are all humanly manifested forms of prehistoric stressors. My question is – do we still need to panic and drum up anxiety in order to survive, thrive and live a full life? Physically we’ve moved on, evolutionarily speaking. But stress hasn’t left us even though we’ve become conscious of our free will. Most people have not awoken to the idea that they have choice in every matter, including how they respond to stressors. Most people still give away their power in favor of base reactions ingrained in us from eons ago.
Here are some of the top stressors that are most commonly expressed by my clients no matter what their age group, background, culture or values.
Doing What You Don’t Want To
Many of my clients feel stress about dreaded tasks and to-do lists. They are either not great at it or feel frustrated at the amount of time they have to spend. Administrative tasks and paperwork are one of the most common elements that come up in Listening sessions. “There is so much to do and not enough time or resources to complete them, plus I hate doing this day in and day out” is what I hear often. Having to do what is unwanted can accumulate into life-long stress if it isn’t eventually managed or outsourced. Every person has a fair amount of stuff they don’t like doing but have to.
Death or Divorce
Major life events that people all over the world go through everyday cause significant stress. Many people reach out to me simply to process the loss of a loved one. I’m not only talking about physical death. Death is also felt in the form of broken relationships where dreams are shattered and the loss of someone who was always around is experienced. The intense feeling of missing a dear one terribly is what many clients come to me to help them through. Now here’s an interesting observation I’ve made – a separation or divorce is sometimes more traumatic long-term than the natural physical death of someone. I believe it has to do with the ultimate finality of human life that allows people to recover after grieving. With a divorce or separation, clients find it hard to attribute causes related to their own responsibility when their relationships break down. Unless a loved one’s death was mysterious, traumatic, painful or shockingly unexpected, divorces seem to be harder to work through.
Too Much Clutter
I’m always surprised by how much people complain about the disorganized mess in their physical space. No matter how many times I tell myself this is a one off or side issue, it seems to come up time and again from clients all over the world. It’s definitely a glaring reflection of inner lives for sure. Hoarding is pretty common, especially for sentimental items. The sheer physical mess does weigh heavy on people though. In the middle of listening sessions, usually after a period of silence, I will hear “Gosh there’s so much stuff in my attic / on my desk / my house / my handbag”. Nevertheless, I’ve come to see that a lot of momentary stress has been relieved when clients resolve to do a thorough cleanup. First of all, the cleanup process is ‘analogue’, i.e. getting away from digital life. Secondly they experience a sense of renewed motivation, and finally they’re able to sleep much better when things of old exit their space. When I ask what it is that would make clients feel better at this moment, the most frequent response is “Cleaning up my [fill in the blank]”.
Lack of Energy
The amount of energy you have throughout the day impacts how you feel about life. Many clients tell me that they are not happy about their energy levels. They can’t seem to generate the willpower or strength to do all they want in the day. Related to the first point, having to do what you don’t like can actually deplete your energy and hence reduces your willingness to put in a 100% to the things you love doing. A wise person once said that you have to complete what you don’t like first, then continue on to things you love. I wonder if its not the opposite. Anyway, many clients talk to me about not having the energy they require because of lack of exercise, bad eating habits or work that requires them to sit at a desk all day. I hear a lot about debilitating lower back issues preventing the enjoyment of physical activity. People express to me how they wish they could get outside in nature a lot more but their low stamina stops them from exploring to the heart’s content.
Complying with Standards
Finally, the obligation to comply with standards set by society, religion, political parties, friends, family, industry and one’s own self causes huge stress for everyday people. This stressor definitely cuts across classes, social status, income levels, nationalities, cultures and any kind of dividing human factor. Every culture and society has standards of work, beauty, social standing, etc. The majority of people are stressed trying to comply with these for reasons of being accepted, praised and even getting paid is dependent upon this compliance. It takes time and awareness to realize that each person can create their own standards, which leads to innovation and new leadership. When people comply, they do it for safety but also for following the crowd. We make up standards and we will make new ones. The question becomes who is going to break the mould first and choose to forge new standards that nobody else is obliged to follow.
Summary of Article
The Big Ideas
01. Stress Ain’t Good
Surprisingly, a lot of folk think that stress is actually good for you. Let me be uber clear on this. Stress isn’t a good thing. It is still considered a major cause of most illnesses.
Panic, anxiety, depression and fear are all humanly manifested forms of prehistoric stressors. Fright or flight responses by animals still remain in human beings.
We make up standards. The question becomes who is going to break the mould first and choose to forge new standards that nobody else is obliged to follow.
These common causes of stress happen everyday and nobody is immune to it. Whether it is the daily stress of endless to-do lists, the loss of a loved one, the clutter in your space, the struggle for physical energy, or the pressure of complying with standards that don’t seem natural, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone in this, no matter what background or culture you belong to. It just takes courage to step out and create your own domain. Choosing to respond to situations without accustomed panic, anxiety and fear-based knee-jerk reactions can beat stress. Easier said than done but if one works on self-awareness, there would be more responding and less reacting. And a surefire curb on unnecessary stress.