According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. And, more than 75 percent of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
It’s a big reason people DRINK, SMOKE, and DO DRUGS. We have “wars” against drugs, “campaigns” against alcohol and cigarettes. But the major contributor to the use of these addicting substances is the STRESS that leads to substance abuse in the first place.
So WHAT is STRESS?
STRESS is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as:
Containing force or influence as:
a force exerted when one body or body part presses on, pulls on, pushes against, or tends to compress or twist another body or body part
the deformation caused in a body by such a force
a physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation
a state resulting from a stress esp. one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium
In our daily lives, we have numerous “opportunities” to be in stressful situations. From time constraints, deciding what to wear, fighting traffic, and hustling to get where you are supposed to be are just a few of the many minor stressors we can experience in our day.
Major stressors come from relationships. Because a relationship involves another person, it is not anywhere as controllable as dealing with “what I’m going to wear today.” When we are dealing with what to wear, even though a large part of that is “how will I look to others,” we consider the possibilities for a while, then make our decision, get dressed, and go on. The STRESS that comes from relationships is undoubtedly the most stressful by far, no matter if the relationship is employee to employer, parent to child, sibling to sibling, or an intimate relationship.
WHY IS THAT?
It’s because we try to take on what the other person is experiencing and/or expecting of us.
We all want to be liked, loved and accepted. And, we will do a lot of very interesting things to make that happen. We will go on diets, start jogging or working out, join organizations and churches, donate hard-earned money to various causes and even agree to do something – all in the name of being ACCEPTED.
I know, I’ve been there… I’ve done every one of those things! Not that any are bad in and of themselves. In fact, they can be good things, for sure. It’s only when we are doing them for the reason of being ACCEPTED by another person or persons that we experience STRESS.
SO HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH STRESS?
Acceptance. When we can play down our ego and accept ourselves as we are and also accept others for who they are, many of the stressors of the world will fall away. Acceptance of others doesn’t always mean agreeing with them. It’s just coming to know that people are who they are, and it’s important for us to not become invested on their changing to think and believe the way we do for it’s rather doubtful that we are going to change them. What’s important is to accept others for who they are and to know that it isn’t important for us to be considered “RIGHT.” When we love others for who they are, not who we want them to be, and when we love ourselves in the same light, we travel far down the road towards a stress-free life.