COPING WITH STRESS

Another new week begins and suddenly this word has come up in my mind. I have a really long list of things to actually do today, but cannot resist writing a few words. Because, be honest, how many of you reading this can say: Stress? I don’t have any stress!

We all do!

I believe each and every one of us, at this moment, has some form of stress, so how do you cope, or even better how do you get rid of it?

Stress is, unfortunately, a sign of our times. The pace of life is so incredibly fast and we are all expected not only to keep up with it, not fall behind, but more important take on more and more pressure! And not complain about it either. Just get on with it!

So what is stress? Stress actually has a number of meanings and interpretations.

The noun STRESS actually means pressure or tension exerted on a material object. And get this; the degree of stress is measured in units of force per unit area. What are they talking about?

This is a much better explanation: Stress is a mental or emotional state of strain and/or tension, resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.

Now a lot of us can relate to that I am sure. The thing is to my mind is why do we allow ourselves to be so pressurized? In the main, a lot of people are afraid of just missing out. We feel obliged to keep up with literally everything. The idea of going off social media for 24 hours almost horrific to lots of people. 

A big fact of life is that we are subject to stress, yes all of us, whether we like it or not. But it is up to you, whether you literally succumb or take the time to deal with it. In other words, make choices for change.

Stress can take many forms, worry about money for example. When you think that money is only really a form of energy exchange, then perhaps you may be able to look at it differently. Lack of money, or not having enough is a sign of the world we live in today. But what then happens to the lucky few who either have loads (so no worries on that score) or the people who say, win the lottery? Even lottery winners have stress! Money is a stigma really. In our world ‘money’ is just a digital substance now. Many of us rarely have ‘old fashioned cash’ we tend to pay with our smart phones or cards. Banks as we knew them, maybe 10-20 years ago, no longer exist. Well here in the Netherlands, a lot are being shut, as everything is now done online. Long gone are the days when wages were paid weekly in little brown envelopes and people put money aside for different things. As I type I can still see a metal tin box my grandfather had when he put coins in the slots for gas, electric, rent etc. Now that everything is digital do you think we have all lost the conception of money in its cash form? Now it is just an online figure?

Stress can also be health related. When fear of health comes into the equation and health is something you cannot buy, then stress is the obvious result. But even then, depending on what your illness is, or a word I really think says it better is: dis-ease. Even then you can take action too. Literally your body is telling you in the form of dis-ease, that something is not right. I am not going to generalize here on life threatening illnesses. But did you know that people around the ages of 25-35 have more burnouts than ever before. This is the age when you should really be in the prime of your life. Young, energetic, full of life, starting out in life and yet this is the age group most affected by stress. Because a burnout is just a trendy term for stress.

So how can you cope with stress? Well one way, if it concerns something work related. Either you are expected to work all hours, or because of lack of funding or cut-backs, forced to work more than the normal average day; what can you do? well one thing is to speak out about it. If you don’t say anything, no one will ever know that you are feeling either overwhelmed or under such pressure that you are reaching the stage that you cannot cope. A lot of people don’t say anything and keep soldiering on regardless, until the pressure becomes so intense, they break. Not literally of course.

I was thinking about the factor stress in my own life. Because I have it too. At the moment, I am feeling under stress on a number of matters. First of all I have a court case coming up at the beginning of April. Being taken to court by people concerning the sale of my house nearly 6 years ago, this coming September. I won’t go into all the (boring) details, but these people have been constantly going on and on about things that are not true. They have a very aggressive lawyer, who come what may and to whatever expense, thinks he has grounds to take action. My own lawyer disagrees. But you can well imagine after all the correspondence, which is a big full lever arch file now, it is stressful!! Often I find that when I wade through the paperwork yet again, that the best thing for me is to try and make a conclusion in writing. One short paragraph that sums it all up. And I can’t. I cannot find anything in this mass of paperwork that I can conclude about anything. So take a deep breath and then write down how I ‘feel’ about it. Well, hardly dare to write in this blog what that is, but I try and stay calm and keep to facts. In some or other way, just writing down a few lines, brings it all back into perspective. And the pressure of stress about it is relieved.

Also I have a medical issue coming up and a two-phase operation. I have written about this in another blog, but it is still hanging in the air and has been for the entire month of March and I am waiting for the date. I could worry about this literally each and every day, but I don’t. I just let it go and trust that at exactly the right moment, the date will come and I will just go. Of course I can give myself sleepless nights of worry, but I don’t. I just accept it as a fact, I can’t do anything about it, just think, experts will take care of me and when their work is done, and I will take over and recover. Simple as that really. Although I know that a lot of people have terrible fear of not only hospitals but also operations.

Stress is something you can give into or not. That is the way I look at it. Of course I have days when it all ‘gets a bit too much’ and then I make the point of doing something to distract me. In other words something that takes my mind off things and gives me something else to do. 

It may all sound ‘easier said than done’, but I come back to something I often say to other people and that is ‘mind set’. If you can get your mind organized, then the stress diminishes. Concentrate on something completely different, it does not matter what, and then you suddenly find that you have not thought about it for a couple of hours, or the whole day, or a whole week. You have perhaps even made the ‘stress’ go away. Why? Because you have not allowed yourself to be ‘overwhelmed’ by it.



You can drive yourself literally crazy if you allow stress to get the upper hand. That is the way I feel about it. I have a lot of friends undergoing stress at this moment and I give them all the same advice and this is a small but important statement:

You can do anything, but you don’t have to do everything. In Dutch we say ‘alles mag, niets moet’ which literally translated ‘everything can, nothing must’.

Often, when stress is part of your life, the best way to deal with things is to not put any more pressure on yourself. Set yourself small tasks and don’t try and do everything all in one day. I do that during a recovery process. I am good at that, I know, but when I am building myself up again, I don’t go out training for the marathon all on the first day. Start slowly, taking small paces and then build up. That is a way to attack stress too.

First of all acknowledge it, talk about it with people close to you, talk to employers and colleagues. If you do the latter, often good ideas come up where the pressure is lifted off everyone. Working as a team and not as an individual often gives solutions too. But again this all starts with small steps leading to bigger strides.

You can allow stress to take over, or you can make up your mind to do something about it. Even driving to and from work every day in an endless traffic jam, is stressful. You could talk about changing hours or working from home to avoid the rush hour. Obviously in some jobs this is not a possibility. But if you don’t say, no one will know.

Stopping stress becoming a part of your life, to such an extent that you feel no longer at ease with yourself (hence the splitting of the word dis-ease), begins with you. Acknowledging it and then doing something about it. If you don’t a ‘burn out’ is the next stage.

It is a fact of life at the moment that more and more people are stressed out. Time for a change don’t you think? Make a choice; do something, anything to start the ball rolling to get rid of it! 

Images: Google Images (acknowledging any copyright).

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Jill Kramer

Hi! I'm Jill and I'm a passionate author of books, short stories, columns and blogs.

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