What to Stress About

What to Stress About?

Written by: Alan Rodway

What we stress about has a profound effect on many things in our lives: our health, our happiness, our well-being overall, our ability to make good decisions, how we come through to other people, our leadership, to name a few. Being ‘good’ at what we actually stress about is an integral component to success (read happiness) in life. This article and the exercise within it is designed to help you consciously get better at what you stress about … so spend some time completing the exercise below and then consider the questions underneath it … don’t look at the questions until you have completed the exercise, to get full value from doing this.

An exercise to try:

Rank the following in order of what would stress you most (1) to what would stress you least (40) … according to your initial reactions (don’t think about it, just go with your instinctive reactions):

……. You get a minor illness

……. So much to do today

……. Someone tells you that you are not good at something

……. Stuck in traffic

……. Someone tells you they don’t like you

……. Losing your job

……. Dispute with a neighbour

……. Bad weather

……. Personal relationship problems

……. Putting on weight

……. Running late

……. Losing a friendship

……. Upcoming major work event

……. Problems at work

……. Someone lets you down

……. Money problems

……. Paper work / administrative work

……. Someone tells you that you’re disorganised

……. Family member becomes seriously ill

……. You get criticised by someone you respect

……. You become seriously ill

……. Upcoming major social event

……. A close friend breaks up with their personal partner

……. You become aware of gossip about you at work

……. A disagreement with a friend

……. Breaking up with your personal partner

……. You don’t get a promotion you think you deserve

……. You accidentally offend a friend

……. You lose your wallet / purse

……. Technology goes wrong

……. You hear of a crime near where you live

……. You let someone down

……. You get criticised by an acquaintance

……. You’re not sure where to take your career

……. You become aware of gossip about you amongst friends

……. Bad night’s sleep

……. You are about to enter a potentially embarrassing situation

……. Communicating with someone you don’t like

……. Buying a product that turns out to be faulty

……. An upcoming medical appointment

Now that you have completed your rankings, answer these questions:
  • What patterns do you notice about what stresses you most and what stresses you least? Are these patterns representative of how you want to live your daily life?
  • What items have you listed high up that, when you look at them again, you would consciously say they should not be having that impact on you?
  • Where would you draw the line in your rankings to determine the point where you just should not stress about anything below that line?
  • How would your rankings compare to people around you (work colleagues, personal partner, friends, family)? If there are significant differences, what problems might those differences be causing? What might you do about this?

The whole point of this exercise is to acknowledge that we humans stress about many things in life and the more consciously we manage stressors the better our lives will be. Being busy in life can disable a more conscious effort in this. Also, different people stress about different things, and managing those differences better can help to create more effective relationships.

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