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Everything develops – even stress.

I have undergone input on overcoming stress from the best, but all too often the writers and trainers focus on stress being caused by AN event – a family argument, potential redundancy at work, a split with a spouse, and so on. But I have always been aware of the ‘true’ story, which is that stress is rarely the consequence of any singular event.

It is all too frequently the result of a whole series of events, occasionally but not always contemporaneous (at once), the combined effect of which is the sudden or even gently insidious onset of some kind of breakdown. And the worst part of this is that the lack of a significant event, or the inability to recognise the drip-drip-drip build-up of smaller stresses, had two effects.

First, the sufferer cannot deal effectively with the stress because s/he cannot clearly see the cause. As we are ‘stimulus-response’ creatures we expect to look at our symptoms and see a clear cause for our emotions, and when it isn’t clear we get all confused, and arguably even more stressed. Unlike a pain we can localise and treat, built-up stress has no scar, wound or ache we can point at and go ‘Aha!’ with.

The second effect is that those around us are also unable to see the ‘significant effect’ and therefore question why it is we are demonstrating the symptoms of stress-related physical or mental distress. I remember a colleague ‘going sick’ with ‘stress’ and those around me could not understand why he was so stressed as (in their eyes) he didn’t do any work and had nothing to be stressed about. I politely pointed out that just because someone is on sick leave from work it doesn’t necessarily follow that work was the cause. In the case in point it was probably more related to domestic issues related to civil legal challenges he was encountering with a questionably motivated local authority.

What is the cure to such stress? I am no psychologist or psychiatrist but one thing leaps out at me from cases like these, based wholly on my own experience of ‘built-up’ stress.

Take control. Recognise what you can do about your circumstances, and take charge of starting the things that need to be started, and stopping those that should be stopped. Let go of the things about which you can do nothing – accept them and move forward. Part of doing this is to identify what the problem is, but not necessarily the cause. Sometimes knowing what the problem is, is enough – the cause gets taken care of ‘by default’ when the problem is addressed. Not always, but more often than you realise.

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The YB12 – Best Year Ever Program includes input on overcoming stress. Go to the Have Your Best Year Ever page for more information, or go to www.yb12coach.com

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