What Is Stress & Can I Control It?

It's important to control stress because often, stress leads to psychological problems. Stress plays an important role in the development of anxiety disorders and depression. Here's what science tells us about stress.

Stress comes in both good and bad forms, stress can be both physical and psychological, stress in the short term can be good but stress in the long term is bad for us. We need some stress to get out of bed, to look for danger, to stay alive. What we don't need is negative stress.

Stress affects individuals in different ways stemming from how each of us reacts to a particular situation. If you persistently react negatively to a situation then this can be detrimental to your health.

So what causes stress? Stress can be caused through both internal and/or external factors.

Internal factors come from our thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, memory, imagination, desires, perceptions, lack of sleep distorting our views, etc. Internal stressors are self-induced more often than not. External factors may come from our environment, work, relationships, home, major life changes, and other daily challenges. For the most part, external stressors are out of our control. Or are they?

To overcome internal stress, we must learn to 'think' differently to control our thoughts or change our perception, to stop distortion. No easy task but it can be done nonetheless. Essentially, negative thoughts lead to a negative life.

Here's the kicker, although you may have no control over external stressors, you can control how you respond to the situation and therefore, how much they affect you.

For example, if you are stuck in slow traffic you can choose to let yourself become anxious and worried or you can sit back and listen to the radio or think about what you are going to do when you get to your destination. Becoming anxious about the slow traffic won't help the traffic move any faster. If you are stressed by someone at work, then you can choose to let them get you down or you can choose to tell yourself that it is their problem and not yours. Note: bullying should never be tolerated and must be reported.

Some people have a low threshold for external stress, if you are one of those then it is up to you to take back control. You start by controlling what you can control, your thoughts.

There are many other ways to help you relieve stress - exercise, yoga, laughing, meditation, mindfulness, sleep, socialisation, reducing caffeine, changing your environment, building positive relationships, the list goes on. Each of these things directly impacts positively on your thoughts.

Is stress just a thought? Simplistically, yes it is. If there are no other influencing factors such as an underlying medical condition, then take control of your thoughts before they take control of you.

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