UNITED STATES—Stress, it is that mental thing that is not easy to describe with words, but you kind of know it when it becomes a part of your life. Stress is the ability to cope with things transpiring in your life that you may not have full control over as you’d like. I learned even more about stress and its impact not only on the psyche, but one’s overall health in a recent graduate course I took studying sociology and health. It was a major eye-opener for me that so many children encounter stress at an early age, perhaps earlier than they should ever encounter it.
This is not me saying stress is good, but it prepares you for adversity in my opinion. If you know how to manage your stress it makes it slightly easier to cope with bigger issues as they crevice into your life (trust me it will indeed happen). So let’s start the conversation by talking about the biggest stressor most Americans encounter: money. Yes, it does appear money causes a lot of issues in people’s lives and it’s something you have to deal with rather you like it or not.
I am a firm believer that money can indeed make your life better, because stresses like healthcare, housing, food, utilities, clothing, childcare and transportation are not as stressful because you have the funds to take care of those things. For those who don’t have the monetary means, the stress becomes elevated. Why? You are sometimes placed in predicaments where you have to make choices: do I pay for the electric bill or put food on the table. Is it more important to ensure I have a house for my kids or healthcare? Some people don’t encounter these issues, but these are things that people have to deal with on a daily basis.
People need to seriously consider this because if you place yourself into the plight of other people you start to understand it only takes a snap of a finger for you to be in the same situation. It’s easy to say make more money, but it doesn’t just happen overnight for most Americans. I worked three jobs while an undergraduate to pay for college and even then I still wasn’t making enough money to support basic essentials. It’s like the cost of everything has consistently risen more and more each day. I remember groceries being so much cheaper; $100 would go quite far 10 years ago, that is not the case anymore. Don’t even get me started on healthcare because no matter what the government and proponents against the government argue: healthcare is still not affordable.
This brings me to a conversation I had with someone who was just complaining nonstop about all his stressors, and I stopped and directly said, “You’re not the only person battling stress.” So many people like to be absorbed sometimes in their bubble, not aware of other people’s plight. Just because someone isn’t screaming from the mountain top of all the stress he or she is battling doesn’t mean they don’t have any. It just means they find other ways of dealing with their stress or processing some of the obstacles that are evident in their lives. The ability to cope with your stress or the stressors in your life is very important to maintaining a positive outlook on life.
Things can without a doubt be bad, but at the same time, you can find a way to fight against adversity. I’ve come to realize that you can’t just sweep stress under the rug. The longer you ignore or refuse to tackle an issue the more likely it stresses you out. It’s like dealing with a bevy of emails and you know you have to answer them, but for reasons you don’t know, you ignore them, knowing the next day, the day after that and the day after that, they will still be part of your life.
Coping mechanisms are important tools to not only addressing your stressors head on, but also relieving that stress at the same time. Some work out, some cook, some write, some read, some go outdoors, some play sports, some watch movies, some listen to music, some use meditation or yoga, some play with the kids, do you see where I’m headed with this conversation? There are outlets to unleash your frustration, don’t allow that stress to build up to a point where it does impact your health. You can develop heart issues, blood flow issues and worse you could end up with a heart attack or aneurysm. Those are deadly people, we don’t want that.
Everyone has stress, some have more stress than others; some have stress that others wouldn’t really consider stress, but open your eyes to realize not everyone deals with stress the same way. Don’t disregard their stress as not being important, and understand that if someone doesn’t vent the stressors in their life doesn’t mean they don’t have stress, they just choose to address it in a way that it doesn’t allow them to delve in the negative on a 24/7 cycle.