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The Stress Trap: You can Escape

Updated: Aug 26, 2023

How many times this week have you said you are stressed or heard someone else say it to you?

It’s “the norm” of modern day life, but should it be? Is this what we accept as our truth now? Is it how we prove our worth to society? Or is it a mindset that we have habituated to? How much longer can we continue as individuals or as a community allowing stress to be a way of life before we take action?

As I was looking up the definition of stress from Merriam Webster I thought I had a pretty decent grasp on its meaning. To me stress means and feels like unrest, tightness in the body, like my mind is too tired or it’s ready to explode, you get it. But I was surprised to see that ‘stress’ has many definitions, two of which were quite concerning.

To quote Merriam, stress is: “a state resulting from a stress [or stressor]

especially : one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium”.

Right off the bat we must notice that stress is caused from a 'stress' (there’s irony for you). The stressor is a perceived or potentially real catalyst for the physical reaction our body has. Which explains why you feel like you are out of equilibrium, out of balance, uneasy, all the words that we feel and even sometimes articulate. Out of balance is what lands for me. It means you aren’t in flow, or you are not living a life that aligns with what feels natural and logical for you. Stress is so very personal.

For instance just the thought of waking up in the morning and making lunches for my kids makes my entire body tighten and my brain fog. I start to think to myself, “What do people even eat for lunch?”. That is the state that is immediately activated by just the thought of doing something that does not come natural to me. The key being this reaction stems from my thought or perception of the situation. And yet, I watch instagram videos and talk to friends with 3 or more children and when we talk about making food or lunches it’s not a big deal to them. Just something they do.

What does that mean about me? It means that it is not my thing and that I have choices to mitigate that problem. So this stress I feel is actually just information that I can use to my advantage to problem solve. The symptoms of stress in my body are alerting me to either a belief I need to shift (my perception of the situation) or simply to figure out a new approach to dealing with the situation, whichever feels more authentic and reasonable to me. Either are fine. What is really important though is that at no point in time am I beating myself up for not being a perfect mom or “lunch maker” in this case. (But self-compassion is a whole other story.)

The point here is that it is my job to employ self-awareness to the situation so I don’t stay in a stress mode because as we all realize by now it is very uncomfortable. The existence of stress alone can be debilitating to the mind and body but there is more bad news. Another of Merriam’s stress definitions is as follows, “[stress is] a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation”. Now that is enough to make me stressed. (lol)

The dictionary is right though. The amount of damage that stress can cause to our mental, emotional and physical bodies is infinite really. I will save the science for another day but it is important to understand that continual stress can lead to real disease in the body. It is also essential to recognize that this uppercase STRESS that we are all working

with, managing and even bragging about stems from our belief systems. We create it with our perception of situations, with our approach to managing our lives and even sometimes choose it to show that we are important or valuable. In other words, we are making ourselves sick with self-imposed stress.

Our body’s stress management system (the nervous system) was designed to react to serious problems, ie. lion attacks, falling trees, fires - A.K.A. real danger. For some reason ‘modern day society’ decided that since those problems don’t exist that often we should create other ways to get our stress induced cortisol high. But the problem is our bodies are not made for that endless chemical hit. It is truly hurting us, making us sick internally and externally, causing us to lash out, overreact, get tired, lose our compassion and most unfortunately miss out on the beauty of living!

So literally check yourself before you wreck yourself. Make time to start thoughtfully questioning where you put your time, energy and attention so that you can begin to minimize stress. Be self-aware of what you perceive to be stressful. It is really easy to fall prey to the mindless hamster wheel of life but you are actually not a hamster. You are a human and you have a big, beautiful brain that can be used for good! Use that brain to make your life better, not only more enjoyable but just better. Better for your body, your mind, your heart, your family, your friends, your career and your purpose. Choose to look at situations with a different, more positive mindset. Get curious, because life is for living, not just surviving.

If you don’t know where to go or what to do to manage, shift or really start finding the happiness and flow in life, send me an email. Let’s talk. I can get you headed down your path towards satisfaction, presence, health and joy. You are worth the effort and it’s a fun process, no stress needed.

If you would like to receive my free workbook Happiness is a Habit: 5 Easy Steps to Jumpstart your Joy this Week, fill out the information below!

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