Stress: How High is Stress Level in Our Lives?

If you are having any type of stress, please don't panic! Welcome to the global club of stress.

Stress is a worldwide phenomenon, in rich and poor countries, in the developed and underdeveloped world, among men and women, even among the rich & famous.

Many books and articles talk about stress: stress management, success under stress, stress therapy, stress relief, job stress, stress medication, stress seminars…. etc.

Stress is almost inevitable in our lives today. It seems there is no way to avoid it. According to the American Psychological Association 75% of adults reported having moderate to high stress level in the past year. Even U.S. teens between 9th & 12th grade are experiencing higher stress level to the extent it is becoming a top health concern for them. In Australia, according to Lifeline Australia, 91% of adults suffer from stress in at least one important area of their lives. Working conditions are creating more stress all over the world. According to the Regus Group, 6 in 10 workers in major global economies are experiencing higher stress related to their work, and China being the highest (86%) in workplace stress.

Stress seems to be everywhere and most of the time. According to Stress in America Survey, 2011, by the American Psychological Association, stress is caused mainly by work, money and the economy. The survey shows that Americans believe stress level has increased in the last 5 years. Other studies about causes of stress include factors such as noise, isolation, relationship problems, danger, loneliness and even high technology like video games  or mobile phones. There are other causes for stress, but no matter what the cause maybe, it is a fact that stress is increasing worldwide. If you do a Google search as of today, 12, December 2013, you would get 169 million results. This shows how stress is becoming a major topic.

Are we dealing with stress properly?

A Strange Phenomenon:  Most people deal with stress in a wrong way. Most people, once they are subject to stress, they act and behave in a way that makes this stress, not weaker but stronger. People react to stress as if to reinforce it rather than weaken it. Both men and women are the same in this respect. They only differ in the way they reinforce it.

Men: once a man is under a stressful cause or event, the first thing he usually does is to deny its effect on him. Men reinforce stress by the denial behavior. A man, especially a macho type, would consider this stress as something too weak to affect him. He views himself as a man, as a person who is supposed to be solid inside, not bothered by what he may consider the little things. This is one of the reasons why men reject the natural tendency to cry. Crying, although it releases part of stress, is considered as something exclusive for women, or at least that is their main view. Denial of a problem or any stressful situation means that the cause of that stress is not being tackled nor confronted. This may create the continuation of that stress until it becomes larger than necessary.

Women: Like men, they also reinforce stress but not by denying it. They engage in negative behaviors that also reinforce the stress. For example, most women once they end up in a broken relationship with a husband or a boyfriend, they start a negative behavior. This negative behavior is usually one of the two: overeating (similar to but not same as Bulimia), or self-isolation, or a combination of the two. Of course, there are cases where women start self-starvation, and this is called Anorexia. By overeating, women become fat. Let us stop here for a moment and notice this behavior because it has many meanings, all are at the unconscious level. Men by their nature, usually are attracted to slim rather than fat women. Again, there are exceptions here. Women by their nature, on the other hand, tend to be much more conscious about their physical appearance, especially, about their weight. The question here is: what makes a woman behave in a way that is contrary to her natural tendency? Many studies and research show very clearly that women's appearance is directly linked to their higher happiness level. Yes, a woman feels good of herself when she looks good, and this is not necessarily because of her interest in men. She feels good even if her female friends tell her that she looks good. But as she has a stressful situation, she begins to reinforce that stress by doing what she usually does not want to do. Is it a subtle way to sabotage her interest in men? Or is it a form of self-destruction? Or is it a way to hurt the male, whoever that might be? 

Both men and women engage in a behavior that is not helpful to their stress. Actually there are many cases where this behavior grows until it becomes more like  what I call a personal-suicide. Yes, if you don't confront your stress in a positive way, it will grow in you until it is stored in your body. Once stored in your  muscles, then it creates a self-destruct mechanism regardless  of the existence of any cause. If another stressful cause is added to this already high -level stress, then you would not be able to function at the personal level. Everything seems to be in a disarray. Your life would look miserable to you even if you are possessing  a high standard of living or a good relationship.

Fortunately, we have the tools and ways to deal with different types of stress. We have many useful resources.

The good news is that we can confront it and release it. Many persons who had high stress level were able to lower it significantly.

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