Tackling stress isn’t necessarily intuitive. Depending on many factors, including childhood development, tackling stress can be extremely difficult for many people. So I’ve identified some stress triggers and ways of coping.
There are a few events in life that have a considerable stress tax attached. There’s even a scale attached to tackling stress, called the Holmes and Rahe stress scale. It also goes into details like – can your stressful life events predict your future illness?
In their research, while pulling data, they found links so strong that they were able to rank things from the most stressful to the least stressful.
There are, of course, always smaller stressors and things that come up. And people are quick to say that they are ‘stressed’ about something. However, typically these aren’t the significant life events. Significant life events are ones that change your life and are often challenging.
Each of these big life changes will need some stress management. Some of them arise unexpectedly, and others are choices that we have made. Like interstate moving, having a baby, or getting married.
Most Stressful Life Changes
It is always worth remembering that people experience stress differently. What has a significant impact on one individual might not have as big as an impact on the next person. Everyone is tackling stress differently. However, the Holmes and Rahe stress scale has a 100-point inventory.
Here are a few events that are generally accepted as the most stressful.
Death Of A Spouse
Or a partner. This won’t be a shock, as it usually happens by surprise and is painful. The chances are you have lost someone you have spent years with. Financially many couples have a constructions with banks, mortgages, and hire purchase agreements between them.
Meaning there can be a heavy financial burden too. Tackling stress around this period is incredibly difficult – there is no other way to say it. And, everyone handles grief differently.
Spending time with friends and family who loved your spouse and can share great memories is usually an excellent way to start the process. Honoring who they were and what they did can bring a lot of peace.
Don’t force yourself to ‘be over it’ or rush your grieving process. You can take as much time as you need to feel like you are in a better space.
“Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.”
― José N. Harris, MI VIDA: A Story of Faith, Hope, and Love
Illness and/or Injury
If you suffer from an injury no matter how it happened, you can be left with physical and mental scars. Injuries can often lead to depression too. The inability to do all of the things that you once did with ease weighs heavy on a person.
It is hard to go through something that causes you physical pain. Usually, a range of standard treatments would be offered like pain management and physiotherapy when needed.
Being diagnosed with a life-changing illness also has a huge impact. Often we don’t see it coming, and we are never entirely sure of the ramifications in the early days.
Both of these will need a lot of emotional support for those around you. So while it might be tempting to cut people out, it will be more beneficial in the long run to talk about how you are feeling. And, while accepting your new limitations might be difficult, you should allow yourself the time to navigate your new way of life.
If your move has been something you have chosen or something that has been required of you due to family commitments or the work that you do, it can be both exciting and a challenge. Moving house is already a high-stress trigger. Packing up your life, and then unpacking it, later on, can be confronting and on some occasions unpleasant. The culture shock of moving to a new country can be tough, in fact, so can moving to a new city. Equally, if you have been away from your country of origin for some time, you can experience reverse culture shock.
Learning a new language, driving on a new side of the road, and perhaps feeling isolated from what you have been so used to can be challenging, and sometimes we can feel lonely.
We are, however, lucky now that we have things like WhatsApp and Facebook, that allow us to keep in touch with the people that we love – no matter how far apart you are. If you have relatives or some friends nearby, it is always lovely to see them when you can. If, however, you are by yourself, then it’s a good idea to get out there and try and meet people.
Coffee shops are great for curbing that lonely feeling, only by being around people. Try to learn some of the languages in your spare time, and you might like to try and find some expat groups to join too. They are filled with people who are going through or have been through what you are experiencing and can be a great support network.
It might seem like a strange one to have on the list, but getting married can upset your natural emotional state. It is a happy event, but if you haven’t been living with your partner up until now, things can get a little tricky. Not to mention that you are now joining two families together.
The wedding day itself can cause people a lot of stress, because even when it is planned to perfection, sometimes things do go wrong. Family and friends might refuse invitations if specific other people are going – which causes a lot of heartaches when you love both sets of people.
Marriage itself takes work and time to adjust to. Even if you have been in a relationship for a long time. Things like wills, insurances, and finances can cause many issues. The important thing is that if you do run into trouble, the best thing you can do is talk about it. Whether you speak to your friends and family about it or choose to see a therapist is up to you. Keeping the lines of communication open with your partner is going to be essential too – which is always easier said than done.
After all, marriage is the joining of two individuals, into one.
Death of a Family Member
This can be very difficult to deal with as often families have unresolved issues from the past – and it can feel like they will never be resolved, and leave you in a state of unrest.
The way they died will also have an impact. Sudden death is one of the hardest to deal with because you simply weren’t prepared and may feel like you have no closure.
If you have had time to come to terms with the fact that they may pass on soon, tackling stress and the grieving process start much earlier on.
Like the death of a spouse, it is essential to keep talking. Your feelings, positive or negative count, and you shouldn’t admonish yourself for feeling any specific way. Seek support from your friends and family if you can. Keep their memory alive if you chose to by talking about them often.
We have a tendency to try and lock ourselves away and try and deal with everything ourselves. Unfortunately, this can lead to grief or upset sitting and festering rather than being dealt with in a healthy way. Some things take us by surprise, and you may feel like you have had the wind knocked out of you – which is totally normal.
There is no single way to deal with grief. Talking to the people that care about the most, being open when you are finding things difficult, and sharing the good stuff is a good start.
Try not to bury yourself in things like work. Letting stress levels build without addressing them can be even more difficult later on. Stress, in general, is not good for us. If we let it go on for too long without taking active steps to lower the levels, we can be more susceptible to anxiety, depression, and heart issues.
It is vital that you understand and accept that there will be things in life that you don’t see coming. Typically they are things that change your life – one way or the other. It can be a lonely time, but usually, we aren’t alone so much as we feel isolated and cut people off.
Try to be open, talk about how you feel and what you are going through. Talk with people that you trust so that you can work through your feelings without judgment and in a healthy environment.
If you feel that you cannot manage simply by sharing with friends and family, then seek the counsel of a trained therapist or grief counselor. They are lovely at being an unbiased ear and letting you talk for as long as you need to. While giving you coping mechanisms that will help you move forward in your life by learning about tackling stress.