If we could somehow harness people’s stress as an energy resource, then the world would never run out of power and energy! That’s the amount of stress and burden the people of the world are carrying with themselves. But what is stress? Why do we experience stress and why is stress management for some people and hard for the others. Most of the people reading this would obviously feel that they are the ones that crumble under stress and are burdened by it time and again. But if we could understand one little thing about stress, then you’ll feel like you’ve been stressing all your life uselessly.
Most of the times we aren’t aware of why we stress, and thus stress management is obviously of the table, but maybe I can change your mind. It may be possible that you have heard it before, but I’ll tell it again. A person once asked, “What is stress?” The wise men said, “It is the gap between our expectations and reality. The larger the gap more is the stress. So expect nothing and accept everything.” I read it somewhere ago, and while I may be sceptical of the second part, the first part makes sense. It makes a lot more sense when you start to relate your every stress management issues and why you face them in the first place. This does give us a solution to work on as well. If you don’t have an idea yet, then let me help out a bit. I am sure you’ll figure it out too.
Understanding “What is Stress”?
What is stress? As described above, it is the gap that is between your unrealistic expectations and the sad reality. It is the feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty when you aren’t able to achieve something that you think you are worthy of. It is good to be confident and set goals for your life ahead and it gives you the vision and the start for a better life, but these two shouldn’t be oceans apart. There is no doubt that you can achieve it if you are overachiever in stress management. Still, more often, it is seen that people succumb to these unrealistic and miles apart goals and expectations, and crumble under the stress and pressure.
This is the stress that needs management skills and can be achieved relatively quickly once you know what stress is. To help you understand better here are some of the daily life examples where we fail to accept the reality and the burden of our stress leads to extreme stress and exhaustion.
Examples where we subject ourselves to stress, and how can it help in Stress Management?
- As much as I would like to deny it, we start experiencing the stress as soon as we can make sense of what’s what! You see how the little kids cry around and throw tantrums when they don’t get the toy they want and in today’s era if they don’t get their mother’s mobile phone to play games. Well, those aren’t just tantrums but is the stress that is making them act all out. They expect something and get something else in return, and that’s what leads to their behaviour. They aren’t as miserable like us, though because they act on their stress by crying or shouting and creating all sorts of a nuisance. It is their way of stress management; wish we could do the same as freely as they do!
- When we grow a little older and can make sense of things, it is the scholastic stress that burdens us. We expect too much from ourselves. We wish to gain the best possible marks and be the best in the class and when we see our plan failing then what we have left is the stress and failed expectations. The misery doesn’t end there, does it? Sometimes we believe that we have done enough in an exam and when the results show the contrary then again what we have left is the stress that we gained from the reality we failed to believe.
- When we a little older, it is the competitive exams and the stress of getting into the top colleges. The students who know their calibre are much more relaxed because they know what they can achieve and never expect the same. This is not an insult but a compliment, when have you ever seen a backbencher being stressed about their marks, scores and colleges. What they have achieved here is an exemplary show of stress management. Since they don’t expect much so whatever they get makes them satisfied. While I do believe that you should always hustle and push yourself a little more but pushing yourself too far of the edge from reality is the reason of stress in young students today that leads to lots and lots of unfortunate incidents; though that is the discussion for another time.
- When you end your college and begin looking for jobs, again there are your high expectations of getting the dream job. But what do we forget here? Have you had a look at your knowledge and skill set? Is it enough for you to land the job that you have dreamt of? If yes, then there is nothing to stress about; frankly even you know that it’s not even stress! It is just the nervousness and the anxiety that you are facing before the beginning of a new chapter of your life but what if you don’t have the required skills and are still dreaming about the job you know you can’t certainly land. What about then? Not to be harsh, but you have every reason to be stressed then. You are expecting something that even you know isn’t possible. The difference between your reality and expectations is just too harsh for you to practice stress management there!
- And now you can make the pattern of your stress and failing stress management in the latter part of your life. Your job appraisals not up to your expectations, or your partner not being the partner you imagined, your kids not standing up to the standards that you think are right and many more. These are just the vital things and essential parts of the life where we face stress, but what about our everyday choices and decisions? There is stress, too, and the daily stress management struggle accompanies along.
How to manage stress, and what do we understand from stress management?
We are designed to work by making several choices each day. Each and every one of our choices makes way for another set of possibilities that would shape our future but making these crucial decisions without the sense of stress management would be devastating and even more stress-inducing.
Till now, we can effectively come to the conclusion that stress is nothing but us failing and realising that our expectations are too hard to achieve even if they can be achieved later. This article is not to demotivate anyone by making you believe that you shouldn’t think big and better for yourselves. If anything you should always think big and you will achieve it, but there is a sure way to achieve and stress management skills would be the best things you can ask for!
Set small goals, to begin with.
We try to overestimate our selves and tend to over-promise things that are not achievable at the moment. It is certainly not impossible, but to get there, you first need to set smaller goals. These small goals will ultimately lead you to your one final goal, but for that, you first to need to turn these smaller stones. It is an excellent way to avoid the unnecessarily large amount of stress that you’d face if you focus on your last goal only. If you fail at the smaller task, how would you solve the ultimate mission and if you do pass it, then what’s stopping you from raising the stakes a little?
Understand and accept what you are capable of
Thinking too highly of yourself when you know exactly where you are is the leading cause of stress that many people of the world are facing right now. How? We know what we care capable of every time and while it is an excellent thing to challenge ourselves every now and then thinking of something too high up the radar is not a really good idea. In doing so, we are harming our peace and also the confidence that we have in us. It would help if you accepted what you are capable of, work on raising the stakes a bit by bit. Bearing unrealistic goals and expectations in mind will lead you to reap regret and stress that wasn’t even supposed to be present, to begin with.
Never compete with others and set your goals by keeping others in mind.
In an ideal world, where nobody compares themselves to others and is happy with what they are and can achieve, there would be no stress and all the people would be free from taking the pain to understand stress management. We set unrealistic goals only when we are unsatisfied of our selves, and that can happen for two reasons; whether you are yourself not satisfies, or you are envious of the success of others. The latter is the leading cause of stress and why you need to manage stress.
Competition is fair when it is healthy, but if it starts to take a toll on your health, then you should know that it’s the time to stop. Be satisfied with what you are and occasionally challenge yourself just for the sake of improvement and a better life. A competition that is a result of jealous and envious feelings is rarely a good one.
The Bottom Line
A little stress is a good boost, but there is a very thin line between the good stress and the stress that can drive you insane, and that’s the thing you need to learn. You should avoid crossing this line at all cost! All through the article, we have learnt that unrealistic expectations and goals, and it’s the distance from the reality can be devastating and a boulder on your stress management. So make sure to be realistic. The world already has many problems for you to face and overcome and don’t need to add one to the list due to your own actions. Stay safe and never lose your grasp over reality.