Where Does Stress Fit In Your Life?

“I’m So Stressed Out!”

Stress fits into your life

Image by JD Hancock

We’ve all heard that before. In fact, we’ve all said that before. There comes a time when life seems to start piling up and we become overwhelmed with all that we have to do. It’s our friends and family who require so much attention, or work that seems to never get quiet, or our own personal demons that constantly push us to try to achieve more than we can. And adding on top of that is our quest to fit our passions in our lives.

Stress is a very real feeling, and I can’t say that it’s completely wrong. We can believe all we want that stress is just a poor coping mechanism, but good luck finding someone who doesn’t feel stressed from time to time.

How do you handle stress? Is it something that ruins your life until you crawl up into a ball dropping all responsibilities? I know people who feel that way, and honestly it’s not the best response. After a while, they have to pick the pieces up again and now they are worse off than before and feeling guilty at the same time.

I would suggest another route. It starts before the stress hits.

Say “no”. The vast majority of our stress due to outside sources comes from us agreeing to do more things that we can handle. By refusing to only go along with other people’s plans, and instead prioritize ourselves, we can take back control. That doesn’t mean being completely selfish and only thinking about ourselves, but instead realizing that we have to help ourselves before we can help others.

The other is to be realistic with ourselves about what we can reasonably expect from within. Are we training for marathons and writing novels, while working up the fast-track to management in our careers? That’s a very quick way to get stressed out.

Even still, there will be times when life seems to really have it out for us. What then?

Take a deep breath. Look around. Put things into perspective.

I need to call that person back. Will it really be that bad if they don’t hear from you until later in the day?

I need to ace that presentation. Will there be other opportunities to show your expertise?

I need to take care of the mountain of chores at home. Will the laundry still be there tomorrow?

I need to… Is it really that serious?

So many times we pull our hair out about things that, in the grand scheme of things, are not that important.

If it is important, do it. If not…put it on hold.

Sometimes we need to push ourselves. Sometimes we need to work our passions and be willing to sacrifice. The rest of the time…we need to take it easy and do the best we can.

Where does stress fit in your life?

This is a guest post by Ryan Bonaparte. He is a 20-something engineer, teacher, aspiring inventor, and someone who dabbles in learning and writing about the world around him. He recently published a book, Crazy Enough To Try, and writes at www.crazyenoughtotry.com about his searches for passion in his life and helping others find their own.

By the way, I’m always looking for guest posters. If you would like to guest post, you can find the guidelines at An Invitation To Guest Post.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Wan Muhammad Zulfikri Bin Wan

    You’re right Ryan.

    Stress comes because we keep thinking of the things that made us stressful. It’s some sort of thinking fallacy.

    Whether you are stressed or not, the reality is we still need to do it.

    Anyway, have you watched this TED talk about stress?

    Here’s the link: http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend.html

    Stress is only bad if we think it’s bad. Interesting isn’t it?

    Thanks for the post Ryan.

    • Just finished watching the TED talk, it was extremely interesting. I love the fact that she looks at the physical effects of stress and how to combat them using scientific research. Thanks for sharing and for commenting, Wan.

      • Wan Muhammad Zulfikri Bin Wan

        Haha glad you liked it,

        It’s really about our mindset.

  • Ryan – thank you for emphasizing the root cause of many stressors – yes stress is a choice, but we can also make that choice easier by choosing better in the moment – great post.

    • Thanks for reading, Jon. As always, better choices lead to better results.

  • At the end of last year I determined my theme for this year was: Less. Too often I’ve taken on way too much which lead to all kinds of stress. This year I want to do less but focus more. Great post Ryan.

    • Often, when we focus on an activity, we are able to do a better job. So by doing less, you’ll end up leading a less stressful life and probably getting a better result in the end.

      Thanks for commenting, Kimanzi.

  • Great post, Ryan! Saying no can prevent a lot of stress. I use to be a yes man, which caused me to be overwhelmed with my commitments. I luckily learned to say no more often which eased up the stress I was feeling.

    • Thanks for reading, Dan.

      It’s great that you learned this before you burned out. Often times it isn’t until someone is forced to learn this point, after their world has come to a grinding halt, that they really internalize it.

  • Ryan did you interview me in the middle there? I’m currently training for a Half Ironman, writing/editing my novel and running my insurance agency. Oh yeah and 3 kids under 3!

    Oddly enough, the training helps me detox from everything else and I try to find my center and identity in Christ. When I rest in his provision, the ‘to fail or not to fail’ worry fades away!

    Saying no is HUGE too – I get asked all the time to do more.

    Great things to be mindful of and thanks for sharing!

    • We can pretend like I did :-). Sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate Matt. Exercise is usually one of those activities that somehow makes it easier to do more than one would think.

      Thanks for commenting.

  • Stress definitely happens in my life. I’ve found when I’m grounded in scripture, connected with my wife and family, and balanced with some fitness, my stress is managed more easily.

    • Love it Jon.

    • That sounds like a great balance, Jon. Focusing on the important aspects of life (health, family, spiritual well-being) can really help to put things in perspective.