Sources Of Stress: How to manage stress and avoid early burnout

Managing stress and anxiety is a worthy skill to pursue. The problem is that we don’t really get taught how to do this. In this post I’ll do my best to shed some light on the sources of stress and help you put together a plan for managing said sources of stress.

Let’s begin.

Stress is the body’s reaction to situations in life.

Some experts call these reactions “triggers”, but basically stress is our response to daily living. We’ll get into this more in just a second, but there are two main sources of stress; physical stress and psychological stress.

Physical stress

Physical stress is any stress that can be identified using one or more of our five senses ( smell, touch, taste, sight, and hearing). An example of physical stress is if you turn around and see a lion sprinting at you full speed. A more modern-day example is sitting in gridlocked traffic on the way to work.

Psychological stress

Psychological stress is stress that messes with our mind. This type of stress can either be real or perceived– both have the same effect on the mind and body.

Real stress is stress that comes from an event that you know is going to happen. An example of this is stressing about paying all the bills at the end of every month.

Perceived stress is stress that comes from and idea or thought may or may not be reality. However we can make the argument that if a person wholeheartedly believe something then that is their reality. An example of perceived stress is stressing about a monster living under your bed who is going to hurt you at night. There may not be a literal monster under your bed, but if a person believes it and worries about it, then it’s just as much of a stressor as the real monthly bills.

Types of stress

Physical stress and psychological stress are the two big sources of stress. Within both of those there are two main types of stress: eustress and distress.

See, stress is actually a normal part of daily living and being human. Our body has developed a stress response called fight or flight, as a survival mechanism. Eustress is a positive stress which the body experiences. Distress is a negative stress which the body experiences. In the short term, small amounts of stress are actually very beneficial.

Stress shouldn’t be avoided, but can cause problems if left unchecked in the long run.

Acute stress vs. chronic stress

Acute stress is stress that is short-term, activates our fight or flight response, and is usually over quickly. Acute stress is the type of stress we would encounter if we did indeed turn around and see a lion chasing us at full speed.

On the other hand there is chronic stress. Chronic stress is stress that lasts a long time (months and even years) and left unchecked, can actually be very detrimental to our health. This is the stress which occurs from long term feelings of being trapped in a bad situation. An example of chronic stress is constantly worrying about going to work, for years, because your boss likes to yell at the employees.

The problem with chronic stress

As we mentioned earlier, the body is more than prepared to deal with very short term acute stressors.

However, we start to run into big problems when we constantly stay in this fight or flight mode, leading to the development of being chronically stressed out. Remember, the two big sources of stress are physical stress and psychological stress. But both have the potential to develop into chronic stress.

Chronic stress is problematic because our bodies don’t have a great way to deal with constant stress.

Overtime constant stress can lead to very negative and detrimental effects on regulatory hormones in our body (ie…cortisol). Left unchecked chronic stress can actually lead to increased risk of heart disease, increased risk of Bell’s palsy, and other detrimental conditions.

How to manage stress

Interestingly, most of our stress is based on our own perception and interpretation of a situation. Two people can experience the exact same situation, but view it completely differently. And you know what, they’re both right.

This seems like an appropriate time to ask: Is your glass half-full or half-empty?

(Hint: you’re right either way…)

How we deal with stress can help us avoid feeling frazzled, always rushing, feeling like life is chaotic and everything is a crisis. Unfortunately, the skills of how to cope and deal with stress to make sure that it never becomes chronic/ detrimental stress aren’t really taught in school or Institutes of higher education.

This is a problem because we are left to fend for ourselves and honestly most of us are poorly equipped to manage stress for months and years. However, the good news is that you can use the outline below to start taking control of your daily stressors; you know… so they don’t become chronic stress over the long run.

Deep breathing

One great way to deal with stress is simply by practicing deep/slow breathing. I’ve read stats the say the average person takes less than 5 deep breathes per day!

That’s not a lot.

Slowing down your breathing is actually a great way to begin managing stress and move from reactive mode to proactive mode.

For a more in-depth look at how to use deep/slow breathing to manage stress checkout the video below. This is a breathing technique that I learned directly from a Navy SEAL.

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Step #1. Create your vision of what you will do if life suddenly became less stressful

I called this creating your vision of a rich life. Not rich in the financial sense, although that can relieve the stress of bill paying, but rich in the sense that by removing and decreasing stress you’ll free up your time and energy to do things you enjoy doing.

The problem is that folks don’t have a vision of what decreasing stress would actually allow them to do more of. It’s kind of like starting out on a road trip without actually knowing where you’re going.

So, the first step is to create your vision of the rich life and ask yourself if you suddenly had 50% less stress, what would you do more of with your free time and extra energy?

Step #2. Use a stress management system to make this repeatable

There is tremendous value in using systems and systematizing processes in order to make day-to-day living more effective and efficient.

Just like there is (generally) a systematized on-boarding process for hiring new employees at a company, managing stress should also have its own systematized process.

Everyone’s stress management system will look different, but there are certain principles that can help you get started successfully managing your own stress. Namely, starting off by figuring out the biggest causes of your day to day stress (ie…traffic, terrible boss, finances…etc).

Once you’ve identified your biggest sources of stress, then it’s you can reverse engineer that and start to develop the actual tactics you’ll use to systematize your stress management (ie… daily deep breathing or journaling).

Step #3. Once you have your system in place, practice your stress management skills daily until they become habit and routine.

Learning to manage and deal with stress is definitely a skill. Developing new skills simply takes time and repetition.

The skill of stress management is no different. Once you’ve figured out where your stress is coming from, and thought through the skills to start reducing it, the final step is to simply practice those skills daily.

And honestly, it’s that daily practice that will help you systematize the skills, by allowing them to become the routine over time.

Your (complete) stress management plan (13 minute video below)

The video below explains this more, but having a plan, or system, to help manage the stress of day-to-day life is extremely beneficial.

The problem is that most of us don’t have this and really aren’t sure how to deal with stress.

Totally understandable.

So in order to help you come up with your own stress management system I’ve laid outlined a 30,000 view of a stress management plan in the video below.  Of course, the actual strategies and tactics you use may be different than what I use, but the principles are the same.

Anyway, enjoy the video:

The stress management cheat sheet

The above advice is all well and good, but I’d like to take this a step further and provide you with an actionable plan you can use TODAY to help you start managing your own daily stress.

Below is a very helpful Stress Management Cheat Sheet to do just that.

The Stress Management Cheat Sheet expands on everything we’ve talked about, in order to give you a working framework that you can use right now to start living your own version of a less stressful rich life.

Anyway, you can grab the stress management cheat sheet by filling out the short form below.  Enjoy.

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