Internal Awareness What is Stress
Julia Mitchell-Hoffman, ECE Behaviorist (2015)
Stress can be broken down into four specific sources:
4. Cognitive (our thought process)
Where we live, work and play has many different types of
demands that cause us stress. Today is a perfect day to be discussing
environmental stress as to the fact we have tons of snow here in Illinois. Here
are a few stresses that you might have experienced this morning:
• Will the children have school? If not who can I get to sit
with them? If they do, will there be bus service?
• I need to leave early today to drive to work in case there
are traffic issues?
• Man I hope people are going to use common sense driving
• I wonder who will call out sick today and who I can get to
• I really hope my clients call to cancel their appointments
if they decide they cannot make it in.
Environmental stressors can also include noise, air
pollution and so much more.
This area tends to represent the anxieties placed on time
and attention. These can include such things as deadlines, interpersonal
relationships and communication, professional dealings, difficulties paying
bills, scheduling, death of a loved one, the birth of a child, parenting
issues, and so much more.
There are natural stress that happens to the body such as
growth, menstruation cycle, aging, illnesses and menopause. There are also
things we do that can add to this type of stress such as
• Lack of exercise
• Poor nutrition
• Not enough sleep
• Ignoring warning signs
• Not taking care of an injury
When we are experiencing stress from the environment or from
our social life we often have physiological symptoms such as upset stomachs,
headaches, depression and anxieties.
Our brain sets an alarm off informing us of the need to
respond when we are presented with stress. How we see the situation and how we
think it will affect our future can help determine how we will respond to the
stress. If we can see the situation as something that will help us, we tend to
relax and breathe. If we interpret the situation to be dangerous, risky or
problematic we may tend to not breathe correctly and our emotions get stirred
up. This can best be described as anxiety provoking.
Let’s look at an
You come home from work and your love one looks at you with
what you determine is a sour look. You begin to run through your head all the
possibilities of reasons she might be mad at you.
Did I leave the toilet seat
up? Did I forget the trash?
Did I forget her birthday?
Did the children act up
Anxiety has been triggered.
You come home from work and you see a look on your love
one’s face that seems like she is tired or preoccupied with her own thoughts.
You smile at her and pull her into a warm embrace and ask her how was her day.
How we respond or interrupt the situation determines how and
when stress begins.
When we become over stressed and anxious we often decide
that the situation is out of our control; it is just too painful and dangerous;
and/or we do not have the resources to handle the situation.