Is it just me, or is the world getting more complicated? Stress levels seem to be increasing around the planet as change is evident in every sphere. Clearly politics, climate, the economy, social media, gender identity—all undergoing major shifts. We are taught that change is inevitable and the only thing we can count on, but when it comes too fast it can create problems. The buzz of an adrenalin rush provides positive stress which can be channeled into motivation. But when change results in too much stress for our bodies and minds to handle it can result in a sort of paralysis. I just read about a phenomenon called FMO, Fear of Missing Out, which is real in an age of social media when we are constantly inundated by images and posts about how wonderful someone else’s experiences are. Inevitably we feel lesser than…because we are not having as much fun as they appear to be having.
Scoring Stress. A classic research study by Holmes and Rahe in 1967, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmes_and_Rahe_stress_scale, highlights a scale they developed to measure the most stressful life events, assigning scores to each. The list is still relevant. Relationship changes loom large with death of a spouse or child topping the list. Divorce and separation are a close second, and even marriage scores pretty high!
Work related events start further down the stress scale. Depending on when you graduated or completed your career prep, you know the industry changes that affect your daily life as well a the course of your career. You may well be in a job that wasn’t even a possibility ten years ago. And, will it be around 10 years from now? Will your current relationship be intact 10 years from now?
We’ve been taught to be forward-looking, continue to network and stay on top of new ideas in our respective fields while bringing 100% to work everyday. Add that to trying to style a personal life that enriches… Of course, it’s not possible to totally separate work and personal lives—often they are intertwined and both affect emotional well-being. Instability in one’s relationships adds stress to one’s work life. So what’s the answer?
Resilience, the capacity to recover quickly from difficult situations is something we can learn. Knowing that life will throw curve balls your way from time to time means you have to prepare yourself to face situations for what they are and move on. Perhaps the wisdom gained will help you to avoid the next curve ball. Until the next ball is a spinner…In other words, none of us knows exactly what will happen in our life as we live it.
Self-care is a preventative practice that we should all commit to. Beyond the health tips that we know to eat right, and exercise, women have a tendency to put others ahead of themselves when it comes to care. Make sure to stay up to date on your preventative medical visits, see your friends regularly and keep up a balanced social network that nourishes you.
Be kind to others. It’s free and comes back to you in multiple rewards. Offering to watch someone’s apartment while they are out of town can provide reciprocal good deeds. You never know when a package will be delivered a day early, and shouldn’t be left on your doorstep. It’s much easier to make that request of a neighbor whom you have helped.
Practice gratitude. Remember your blessings and keep that context in mind when minor irritations threaten to become huge.
Reach out for help when you need it. When you are able articulate what you need, even to yourself, it helps keep an issue in perspective, and down to size. Even better is when you have a best friend who knows you well enough to listen and provide perspective to your situation.
Be kind to yourself. Be the friend you are to others, to yourself. Don’t criticize yourself, it doesn’t help. When you are beyond the initial episode that stresses you, try to review it as a case study in how to deal with an issue differently in the future, and then do that.
Change happens, but we have control over our response. Consciously building resilience will provide you with more tools to bounce back.
*This piece originally appeared in Ms Career Girl 11/24/19.
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