If we had to pinpoint the source of unhappiness, stress (in all its forms) would be a likely culprit. It comes from every possible angle, from work responsibility to romantic relationships, things beyond our control like weather and equipment malfunctions to anxieties and problems that are entirely self-generated. Stress is everywhere – it just comes in many, many forms.
Not only are there many types of stress, it also affects different people in different ways. Some people thrive on it, others buckle – and everything in between. It’s something we can relate to in others, but never quite fully understand because we all experience stress differently – and get stressed out by different things.
Stress doesn’t really go away with career success, money, family, healthy relationships, or any of the other stuff we seek out to build our happiness. It may change forms, but it will never truly go away.
Poverty is stressful, so is managing a massive and lucrative investment account. Loneliness can cause stress, so can navigating social circles or large families. Jobs of all kinds, mundane activities, huge existential questions, anxiety about the unknown, fear, physical injuries, illness – these are potentially stress inducing experiences that just about everyone has to face. There’s no getting around them.
So if there’s no escaping stress, what are we supposed to do?
The short answer: learn to deal with it.
Just as we all experience stress in different ways, and from sources unique to our own lives, we have to develop our own ways of coping with it. The most important thing to understand about this need to create your own path to stress relief is this: there are healthy ways and unhealthy ways to deal with stress, and you have to know the difference.
Turning to drugs, alcohol, binge eating, self-harm, lashing out at others, and other destructive behaviors are certainly the unhealthy route, and should be avoided – no matter how much better they may make you feel. Any relief gained in this way will be temporary, and likely lead to even more stresses in the future.
On the other side of the coin, there are plenty of healthy ways to relieve stress like yoga, meditation, exercise, music, a walk in nature, and a host of other nondestructive activities.
The point is to recognize that stress is just a part of life. You can develop your own ways of coping, and when the stressors start to pile up, you’ll have a way to handle it in a way that you know works for you.
I’d love to hear what you do to relieve stress. Leave me a comment below.