Everyone goes through bouts of stress from time to time and in most cases, you’re sure to know the basic causes of stress in your life – financial troubles, work-related stress, niggling family issues, the likes. These are downright troublesome in nature and have good reason to keep you up at night! However, there are things you deal with every day that actually contribute to your stress bouts, and you probably haven’t even realised it yet!
9 Things You Didn’t Know Were Stressing You Out
If you’re feeling uncharacteristically stressed out but can’t really put your finger on it, these reasons may be why. Remember, these may not really trigger stress bouts instantly, but rather, keep adding on till they completely overwhelm you later on.
There are plenty of sources of noise pollution all around you – wailing vehicles, angry mobs, functions and festivals that call for songs to be played at unworldly (and unnecessary!) decibels, and so on. But that’s not all the noise you deal with on a daily basis, is it? Operating household appliances, dealing with your children’s screaming while you force them to eat their vegetables, your noisy colleagues who never realise just how loudly they’re talking – these are the little things that can trigger your body’s stress response. Typically, your body responds to noise with the ‘fight or flight’ response, which is what gets your blood rushing. But if the noises you deal with are too loud and occur too often, it’s not just stress that will be your problem, but also, your disrupted quality of sleep.
2. Social Media
Your best friend’s thriving career, your sister-in-law’s enviable beach vacation, all the #squadgoals pictures your ex-colleagues put up – these are three of the innumerable examples of posts that you’re inundated with when you casually open up Instagram. Forget Mira Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, there are people in your own life who seem to be having quite a gala time, while you can’t help but feel poorly in comparison. Then, of course, there are worrying news updates of the latest political conflicts or natural disasters or the break-ins in your neighbourhood. Social media can be a bit of a scary place to be at times!
Although it may not strike you immediately, these continuous and long bursts of information are adding to your stress levels, by worrying you with scary facts or simply by making you feel inferior, like you’re not living your best life! Which brings us to…
3. Your Own Expectations
You may have had a concrete plan in mind when you graduated from college or worked your first job, whereby you’d expected to be somewhere far ahead than where you were then. Except, your retrospection every once in a while makes you face a scary truth – that you’re nowhere close to where or what you’d expected to be…and especially, when compared to others. And daily reminders on social media or examples from your own life can keep you feeling worried and unappreciative of everything else you have going on for you.
4. Your Not-so-obvious Toxic Relationships
Apart from people who are downright mean and seek pleasure from your pain, there are types of people who can hurt you without making it obvious. Think about a possessive partner who keeps a tab on you wherever you go or your friend who always ‘jokingly’ puts you down in front of others. A lot of these people you believe to be your well-wishers are also slowly building up your stress levels because of their words or actions. And it’s hard to figure such people out because sometimes, the signs aren’t obvious at all; but your gut sure signals differently when they’re around! If the thought of spending too much time with such a person makes you feel slightly anxious, when it really shouldn’t, you’re dealing with a toxic character.
5. Childhood Traumas
Things that you’ve suffered as a child are not something you ‘just get over’ when you grow up. It stays seeded within you, because your mind and body remember what they’ve faced. Stress that you’ve faced early on as a child can either make you extremely resilient to trying circumstances, or prone to stress and anxiety-related disorders when you are an adult. Unresolved issues with parents, or horrible physical or emotional situations you’ve faced as a child can contribute to stress later on in life.
6. The Little ‘Everyday’ Problems
There may be times that you end up running late by a couple of minutes for an important meeting or get cut off in a queue or have to wrestle with another car for the last parking spot in the mall. These are little things that build up, not just because of how annoying they are, but also because they evoke dormant feelings of embarrassment or fears from very long ago.
7. Other People’s Stress Too!
It’s not just our own problems that are capable of bogging us down; knowing that someone else is undergoing troubles of their own can also make us feel worried and stressed. In fact, this shows that you’re quite an empathetic person because you’re able to feel someone else’s pain, which is a good thing. However, it is equally troubling is that you end up bearing the brunt of that pain too!
8. Your Open-plan Office
Yes, the very same structure that binds you together with all your colleagues without a modicum of privacy and plenty of noise and chatter to go around! The open-plan office, although useful to collaborate with each other quickly, can be your source of stress if you’re not able to get work done or are exposed to constant chatter. It also can keep you slightly on edge, since you don’t know who’ll be walking up to you or sneakily behind you suddenly, disrupting your train of thought!
9. Your “Healthy” Diets
If you’re someone who gives fad diets the occasional (or religious) try for the sake of your good health, this could be triggering your stress bouts too. Certain diets can get too restrictive, and too soon, which means cutting out your favourite foods in the name of health. While this can have certain health benefits, forcing yourself to eat something you can’t stand when you can’t even have an occasional reprieve with a treat can make you irritable and moody. It also causes you to develop a negative relationship with food, and come on, if food makes you feel guilty, there’s something wrong right there!
So, How Can You Deal With All These Problems?
Let’s look at the simple things you can do to make sure that you don’t let the stress get to you!
1. It may not always be possible to combat high noise levels, but try to make actual ‘quiet’ time for yourself every day, even if it is for at least ten minutes. Invest in appliances and devices which do not produce extremely loud sounds, and of course, quality earphones. But don’t just subject yourself to music; listen to ambient tunes or sounds that will help calm you down. Give your ears some rest, it’s definitely going to yield decent health benefits!
2. In an open-plan office, it’s important that you take time out for yourself every once in a while, be it a solo coffee break or booking a meeting room to work in for a couple of hours (if allowed). Often, we’re so used to our co-workers joining us for tea or engaging in conversations with them, that we don’t pay attention to the fact that a silent break could do us wonders.
3. A digital detox once in a while is required to get rid of the stress caused by social media. It also will bode well to keep in mind that social media is where people rush to post the best aspects of their lives; the troubles and stress they’re facing in the back-end are very well hidden from the public eye. At the end of the day, it’s all about creating an image, and not everyone will be dedicated to making it the most genuine version of themselves! So comparing yourself to where others are is not just unhealthy, but at most times, unnecessary. Remember most people will NOT post about their failures. What you see if almost always a neatly ‘finished’, edited version of their lives.
4. Express gratitude for what you have in life, even if it the smallest of things. Make sure you mean it and don’t treat it as a tedious exercise. Shout it out loud or write it all down, but the more you express it, the more you’ll realise how blessed you truly are. Dreams and goals are meant to motivate you; don’t let someone else achieving their dreams make you think you can’t do well!
5. If you feel like you need help at all when it comes to dealing with unresolved issues from the past or troublesome issues in the present, do not be afraid to ask for it. Cut ties with people who are stressing you out, if you’re unable to resolve issues with them. Unfollow people on social media if they’re making you question your worth. Seeking help for mental health is highly stigmatised in our society but the walls are finally coming down. So if you think that better measures than ‘getting over it’ are required, get right down to it!
6. Remember that stress manifests as a result of physical issues as well – poor quality of sleep, problems with your diet, and lack of exercise. Ensure that you’re taking proper care of your body and have a positive relationship with food. Don’t guilt yourself into eating a piece of organic kale when you’d rather have good ol’ dal-chawal that isn’t bad for your health at all!
Take it one step at a time, one day at a time. But remind yourself constantly of your worth, your abilities, and everything you’ve achieved, and don’t let the little things get to you – and if they do, now you know what to do!