Susceptibility to Stress

Why are some people more susceptible to stress than others?  I’m going to focus on stress and burnout this month and really dive into the factors on which I believe we need to focus in order to be more resilient.

Stress is a somewhat catch all term these days, but for my purposes we will be talking about mental stress. Mental stress is defined as “A form of stress that occurs because of how events in one’s external or internal environment are perceived, resulting in the psychological experience of distress and anxiety” (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). 

Here are 8 factors which I believe make us more susceptible to mental stress.

  1. Lack of foundational health. Not being at the top of your physical and emotional game gives you less energy to process mental stress. 
  2. Lack of clarity by having no goal or too many goals. Humans are goal-oriented (food and water being the top 2 goals) and not having a goal that you are going after can cause self-judgment and negative inner dialog to increase. The flip side of this is having too many goals which can result in the same self-judgment and negative inner dialog.
  3. Misalignment of how you spend your time with your priorities. We all have priorities in life. If your schedule doesn’t reflect these priorities, you will likely be experiencing mental stress.
  4. Not asking for help. Thinking that we can do it all can lead to a place where we are overwhelmed and resentful. Thinking that we are “less than” because we need to ask for help can prevent us from doing so.
  5. Not being aware of self-limiting beliefs. We all have these. We believe something that we were shown or told as a kid or that we heard through the media and we take it as gospel. We don’t question whether or not a belief is really true. The belief may lead us to think we are powerless. 
  6. Not saying no. We take on too many things because we don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings by saying no. Rachel Hollis in her book, Girl, Stop Apologizing, says “If it’s not a hell yeah, then it’s a no”. 
  7. Fear of other people’s opinions. Placing too much emphasis on what other people think of us can lead to feelings of inadequacy and doubt. If the opinion isn’t coming from a place of love, you might want to consider ignoring it.
  8. Comparing yourself to others. This is a big one. No one has a perfect life my friends. It may look that way on social media, but everyone has a 50-50 life.

I’m going to talk about each of these topics in depth this month. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these 8 factors and what other factors you think are leading to mental stress.

Salomon K. (2013) Mental Stress. In: Gellman M.D., Turner J.R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine. Springer, New York, NY.

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