The Friendly Symptoms of Stress
The Friendly Symptoms of Stress
Copyright 2017© Julia Gilroy, all rights reserved world-wide
In my post ‘Investigating Stress’ I put forward that the ‘stressful’ state we find ourselves in, triggers a chain reaction. Once we see an unpleasant situation and label it as ‘stressful’ there is a psycho- physical response of fear, tension and anxiety. We register this as bad, wrong and unpleasant, so duly try to change or eliminate these feelings we attribute to ‘stress’. In this post I will discuss why such habitual reactions to stress have little effect and ask the question we never think to ask.
Habit and Change
None of us enjoy having the negative emotions and tension we associate with a certain kind of stress so we do all we can to get rid of these feelings. This is the habitual reaction of most people. The argument goes that if you feel ‘stressed’ you find a way to alleviate it: by taking medicine, trying various methods, having weekly massages or such like in order to become ‘de-stressed’. You intent is to do whatever is necessary in order to escape or undo this disagreeable state. There are useful ways that help – to a certain extent. However, for most people, after a certain amount of time those feelings return and the stress remains. The feelings or symptoms may be diminished or more intense, but they have not disappeared. Then you start asking yourself if you are destined to feel stressed, ‘I am just that kind of a person’, or maybe think ‘there is something wrong with me’, or even consider making big changes in your life.
The Question You Never Think to Ask
If we consider again how we deal with stress we may find a clue. We find ourselves feeling stressed, anxious andtense and perceive this state as undesirable and necessary to change. It is this state that we see as ‘the problem‘ but is it? There is one outstanding question we haven’t asked; what am I stressed, tense and anxious about? Isn’t this state the result of something rather than the problem itself? Stress isn’t a ‘thing’, it doesn’t just appear out of nowhere or simply disappear as I have witnessed after trying my own selection of classes and methods. I did not aim to have these tense, anxious feelings but they happened anyway. Something must have triggered them but what? We are so intent on changing this undesirable state without knowing what exactly we haveto change.
Friends not Enemies
This is when you need to decipher very carefully what happened before these stressful symptoms appeared. For that is what they are, symptoms or signals that enable you to notice when something is not working for you. They are friends not enemies! They are uncomfortable to experience yet necessary if you wish to make constructive changes in your life. To find out what triggers them, it is important to pay attention to the message they are giving you. It is, therefore important to listen to the signals rather than try to change them. (see post on ‘refusing to see the warning signs’)
This is the first stage to consider and see for yourself if it makes sense. The next time you have the ‘stress’ symptoms, ask yourself what happened just before these symptoms appeared. What were you doing, thinking, feeling… or what was happening around you, and see if you can find a connection. This is collecting information that can help you decipher the cause behind the stress symptoms. It is the first but most important step to take on the road to discovering the real reasons for the stressful feelings.
In the following post I will talk about our value judgments, our individual points of view and how important they are in uncovering the cause of stress.
to be continued…