Stress is a figment of your imagination. Stress is an uncomfortable emotional experience (Baum, 1990) – our psychological response to a perceived threat. That’s all it is, and it’s all in our heads. Sorry.
When I first started studying stress, this realization really pissed me off. I wore my stress like a badge. To me, stress was a status symbol. I was doing some really hard, important sh*t, and stress just came with the territory.
People tend to think of stress as some evil force in the universe. It’s not. We manufacture our own stress. When we concoct a worse case explanation of a situation and become worried, sad or depressed, we’ve succeeded in manufacturing a stressful situation. It’s that simple.
Say the boss sends the same email to two different employees – it simply reads “Can I see you at the end of the day?” One employee assumes the worse case scenario and convinces himself that he’s about to be terminated. The other employee assumes the boss simply wants a status report. Who would you rather have lunch with that day!
The next time you’re feeling stress, do these three things:
- Remember – YOU’RE THE ONE MANUFACTURING THE STRESS
- Listen to yourself – chances are you’re locked in a worse case scenario
- Explore – consider more balanced and positive scenarios