By Kalpana Murthy, LPC
Why People Have Different Levels of Stress
Why is it that two people with similar qualities, skills and experience can have very different levels of stress response to the same situation, like interviewing for a job, going on a first date, attending a social event or trying a new class?
These events are not necessarily stressful. It is the individual’s perception of the event that determines their stress response. Your level of emotional response to a situation is a function of:
- your perception of how difficult or demanding that situation is for you
- your perception of yourself relative to the outcome of the event, and
- your perception of your ability to handle the demands of that situation and the outcome of the situation.
Stress Reduction Tips – How to Lower Your Stress Response
The more you feel you can handle a situation and the outcome, the lower your stress response. Here are five factors that influence your perceptions and can reduce your stress.
1. Self Confidence
The more experiences you’ve had handling new or challenging situations in a way that you felt good about, the less likely you are to view a situation as stressful. Think about times when you tried something new or handled a situation that seemed stressful to you. Past successes increase your perceptions that you can handle new or challenging situations.
2. Self Esteem
If the job interview, sales presentation or first date, didn’t turn out like you wanted it to, are you still able to like and respect yourself? If you go into a situation thinking, if this doesn’t turn out like I want, it means “I’m not good enough” or “I’m a failure”, then your level of stress will be higher. Consider the meaning you assign to the outcome of events. Take an inventory of your many good qualities and recognize the many factors that influence the outcome of a situation.
3. Self Disclosure
How willing are you to share your thoughts and feelings with people you trust? Being able to talk to friends, family and trusted advisors, about how you feel about challenging situations is another way to reduce your stress response. Conversations that focus on the good in the situation can help increase your self esteem and shift your perceptions about the situation and yourself.
4. Self Awareness
How well do you know yourself? Self awareness reduces your stress response. When you are conscious of your thought patterns, behavior patterns, and beliefs about yourself, you are more likely to feel that you can handle a situation. Are you aware when your past is coming into play in your present and prompting you to view a situation as more stressful than it is? Do you recognize when your negative beliefs about yourself or a situation are holding you back from having new experiences or achieving your goals? When you understand how your past is influencing your present day behaviors and perceptions, then you can resolve factors that are creating stress for you. To read a client story of how our sessions helped increase her self awareness and reduce stress in her career, see the column on the right side of this newsletter.
5. Self Care
Eating nutritious foods, regular exercise, and daily periods of quiet time and relaxation lower your stress response and boost your ability to handle challenging situations. When you start feeling stressed, use healthy techniques to lower your stress response before it escalates.
To learn more about how I can help you lower your stress or resolve what’s holding you back from living life more fully, contact me or make an appointment.