The Skinny on Stress

Stressed? You’re definitely not alone. We experience stress from virtually anything – from simple, everyday annoyances to the “big” stuff like financial woes, job worries, and relationship troubles. Not surprisingly, stress that builds up can have serious negative consequences on your personal and professional life.

The Lowdown on Stress

Statistic Brain lists the top causes of stress: job pressure, money, health, relationships, poor nutrition, media overload, and sleep deprivation. In the US, 77% of people regularly experience stress-induced physical symptoms, and 73% routinely experience psychological stress-induced symptoms.ID-10057562 Nearly 50% of people felt their stress has risen over the last five years, and 48% claimed stress kept them up at night.

If you’re a parent, you may not be fully aware how stress is affecting your kids: your own stress levels can wreak havoc with your kids. Tension is contagious, according to David Code, author of Kids Pick Up On Everything: How Parental Stress is Toxic to Kids.

In Stress in America™ Paying With Our Health, released February 2015 by the American Psychological Association (APA), survey findings indicated that parents with children under 18 living at home often report greater average stress levels than their counterparts.

What’s more, survey findings showed a link between stress and age, with millennials and Gen Xers reporting greater levels of stress than any other generation. In fact, 82% of millennials report having experienced at least one stress symptom in the past month.

What’s Your Stress Reaction?

What can you do about all that stress? There’s good news and bad news…the bad news is that most of us aren’t natural born stress-busting warriors. The good news? Just about everyone can learn new coping skills or modify their existing skills to better respond to life’s stressors.

The first step in stress management starts with a candid look at your unique reaction to stress. Sometimes it’s easier to start by observing how other people react to stress than it is to determine your own reaction.

Just think of how five different people you know would react to an everyday stressor like running late for a meeting or being stuck behind a slow driver. Some may take it all in stride; others may swiftly go right into panic mode.

As you assess how you react to stress, ask these questions (for best results, I recommend keeping a journal for at least a week to monitor yourself):

  • Are there certain triggers that set you off?
  • Do you respond more negatively to some stressors (for instance, a leaky faucet doesn’t ruffle your feathers too much, but waiting in traffic seems to set you right off…)?
  • How do you respond? Do you unconsciously grit your teeth or clench your fists? Have unexplained physical ailments? Overeat? Skip meals? Blow up in anger? Cry? Avoid the issue? Expect the worst? Turn to alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs?

Now you can use your findings to develop stress-busting strategies, which I’ll talk more about that in my next post. For now, I’ll leave you with a quote from famed stress researcher Hans Selye, “It’s not stress that kills us; it is our reaction to it.”

Get some fresh inspiration (and some stress-busting tips) delivered each week to your inbox – sign up for my FREE weekly Bold Move today!


Image courtesy of stockimages at

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Leave a comment