Most people are aware of common sources of stress. Work and school can cause frustration and anxiety, as well as certain family issues. Managing a medical condition can be stressful just like financial shortfalls. But there are some sources of stress that don’t enter people’s minds very often. And, just because you aren’t aware of its impact on your life, that doesn’t make the effects any less real.
To help you find (and manage) surprising sources of stress in the modern world, consider these tips.
Current Events and Daily News
We are taught to pay attention to the world around us. Often, that involves keeping up with current events. Whether you focus on local news or spend more time investigating a larger world view, issues from anywhere across the globe can be a source of stress for you as well.
Spending time fixated on disasters (natural or manmade) can increase stress levels, especially if you internalize the negative feelings associated with an event. But that doesn’t mean you should stick your head in the sand and avoid hearing about all news. Instead, your best bet is to actually become more educated about the situations at hand.
For example, a 60-second piece of news coverage on the current economic and political climate in Iran may leave you nervous. Then, the news piece ends and leaves you with only the slightest glimpse into the day’s happenings. But, if you dig a little deeper, such as by reading articles by Mark Dubowitz, you can get the additional information you need to form a more complete picture.
Simply observing someone else managing a stressful situation can increase your stress levels. For example, if a coworker is preparing for a challenging presentation, and they are at the desk next to you, watching them navigate stressful conditions can make you more stressed. This common reaction is referred to as empathic stress.
The same occurs when you know someone who has experienced an unexpected trauma, like an accident or acute, serious illness. Not only do you feel bad for them, but you also become more aware of the risks to yourself in your daily life. Often, we pay little attention to these potential scenarios during our normal lives. However, having someone you know experience it makes the risks more apparent, and that can lead to additional stress.
Most of this stress has to do with mindset, so reframing the issues can help. First, it is important to realize that the stressful situation is happening to someone else, and not to you. Don’t internalize the stress of others as it is only harmful to your situation. If you find yourself holding on to this stress, use the same techniques you would use to manage personal stress. Deep breathing, meditation, and exercise can all be beneficial.
When people think of social media, they often picture a way to connect with friends and family regardless of the distance. But, it turns out, this drive to stay connected can actually increase stress. Some people feel the pressure of “keeping up with the Joneses” is more pronounced when you can observe the activities of others so quickly. Others are acutely aware of their lack of privacy, and that makes them uncomfortable.
Regardless of the reasons for the stress, the biggest key to managing it is to keep everything in perspective. Even if a friend or family member’s life looks perfect online, that doesn’t mean that it is. Additionally, don’t feel like you need to portray a perfect image yourself. And, don’t be afraid to put your device down from time to time, and simply enjoy the moment as it is occurring. Not everything is about creating a perfect post, so leave the phone at home and do things for the sake of doing them instead of for sharing them online later.