“Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days; when our momma sang us to sleep, but now we’re stressed out.”
Are those lines familiar to you? I do believe that we all agree with those lyrics from Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots, simply because most of us have literally experienced being so stressed out. Everything seems so stressful when your life is full of deadlines, exams, responsibilities; not to mention about your parents and friends who give you pressures to meet their expectations.
More often than not, we forget that actually, stress is perceived; you are the one who claims that you are stressed, or vice versa. Based on Health Psychology by Shelley E. Taylor, stress results from the process of appraising events (as harmful, threatening, or challenging), of assessing potential responses and of responding to those events. There are three key elements on that definition; appraise, assess, and respond.
Therefore, before you stressed out and respond to it, you need to calm down and assess your own situation first. Are those situations worth to be stressed?
Actually, most events themselves are not inherently stressful; whether those events are stressful or not depends on how they perceived by the individuals. Then, what makes some events become so stressful for someone? In this term, stressful events are usually called as stressors. Based on Shelley, there are four characteristics of events that can be people’s stressor:
1. Negative events
It is totally normal for you to say that you are stressed because you are trying to get a job, failing to reach your life goals, or losing your loved ones; those are called negative events. Not only that, those events will make you give extra work and pressure, but those events are also having implication for your self-concept; in which it’s producing the loss of self-esteem and the destruction on your own sense of identity.
Dealing with some negative events might be so hard for some people and if this thing happened to you; please don’t be too hard on yourself. Find what feels good for you to deal with the pain; try to connect with your loved ones, do exercise might help, and don’t be too long listening to those sad songs. You gotta find your strengths once again.
2. Uncontrollable events
People tend to perceive an uncontrollable event as a stressor. When people feel that they can predict, modify, and influence a circumstance; they experience it as less stressful. Moreover, the feelings of control not only mute the subjective experience of stress, but also influence the biochemical reactions to it. Have you ever done your best for your assignments, but suddenly, your laptop was broken so you have to start your tasks all over again? That was one of the normal examples for you to feel the stress.
Having an inner peace is one of the keys to cope with this kind of stressor, since all you need to do is letting go your disappointments regarding the things that didn’t happen as planned. Meditation or practicing mindfulness might help you to cope (I highly recommend Yoga!).
3. Ambiguous Events
Ambiguous events are typically perceived as more stressful than are clear-cut events, because when a potential stressor is ambiguous, a person cannot take action. For example, when your loved ones were mad at you without giving any explanations, you will devote your energy to understand their anger. The multi-interpretations of their anger is potential to be one of the stressor that you will encounter.
One of the ways to cope with this kind of stressor is to control your emotion first before confronting the ambiguous events. Everybody has their own ways to controlling their emotions, but one of the effective ways is through expressive writing. A study found that expressive writing, or putting your thoughts, emotions, and experiences into words, can reduce the stress and anxiety.
4. Overload or ‘Burnout’
People who have too many tasks in their lives report higher levels of stress than those who have fewer tasks. The perception that one is responsible for doing too much in a short time is a circumstance that can be stressful for some people. One of the ways to cope with this kind of stressor is to take a break from your routines or tasks. Remember that your life is not always revolve around your responsibilities; do your hobby and have a quality time with your loved ones once in a while will help you to release the stress.
It is important to assess your circumstances first before you claim that you are stress. Assessing your circumstances will help you to think clearly on solving the problems instead of drowning in your own desperation. At the end of the day, everyone is struggling with their own battles, and if they can cope with the stress; you can do it too.