Definition of Stress

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Definition of Stress

Definition of stress: a state of mental tension and worry caused by life problems.  It can cause intense feelings of worry or anxiety.

Most often we think of stress being caused by

  • our work / boss
  • school
  • parenting
  • too many commitments
  • finances/ unpaid bills
  • relationships
  • the demands of others
  • guilt

There is another cause of stress that is rarely recognized...

frog carrying pile of books and papers

Unresolved Grief

As humans, we struggle to adapt to change.  Change, even good change, causes stress.  We sometimes experience grief for what we are leaving behind to move forward in life.

However, when we do not fully process or adapt to change and loss, it can result in feelings of loss, which contribute to the definition of stress when these feelings are not quickly resolved.

image of word cloud including sadness, heartbreak, grief, suffering, pain, woe, misery...

When we have negative experiences, they sometimes stick around longer in our consciousness than we would like.  These negative experiences begin to affect

  • our level of confidence
  • our expectations for the future
  • our hope
  • our enjoyment of life

Eventually, the results of unresolved grief can weigh us down, affecting our closest relationships, our work, parenting and other realms of life. 

Today, many people are carrying this stress in the form of anxiety, anger, depression, physical ailments (headaches, stomach aches, and other bodily pains). 

When we experience loss, it can cause us to be less trusting or hopeful of a positive outcome in the future.  Our hearts become cautious and less carefree.  Anxiety is often the cover for a bunch of unresolved emotions that threaten to come to the surface and escape their containment.  Instead of feeling fear, guilt, resentment, insecure, inadequate, etc, when those feelings are tapped into, what we experience is anxiety - or an awareness inside that our peace has disappeared.

I think of anxiety as a cap or lid over a lot of unexpressed emotions.  When those emotions are triggered by life experiences, the lid tends to quiver and we feel anxious.  Anxiety and stress can be a signal that we have some work to do in acknowledging and processing other emotions. 

When you feel stressed or anxious, talk to yourself in a soothing, compassionate non-judgmental way to help yourself calm down.

Origins of Stress

Patterns of dealing with emotions are usually established in childhood.  Children who experience stressful experiences also can experience grief and loss with painful remnants into their future, affecting relationships, work and success.  Click here for more on losses and stress in childhood.

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