Stress is hard on the mind — this much we intuitively know. But what we may not realize is how much our DAILY REACTIONS to stress take a cumulative toll on our minds.
For the first time I am finding the strength to talk about this experience with you, embarrassing at the time, however a historical fact that was a life changing experience in overcoming stress.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine used data from national surveys (the Midlife Development in the United States Series and National Study of Daily Experiences) to assess the daily stressors and reactions to stress of roughly 700 participants between the ages of 25 and 74. The stress profile for these participants covered eight consecutive days, during which they reported stressful situations encountered and their reactions to those situations.
My encounter was feeling extremely depress for days, it was losing my family, home and my job in the space of a few years. Tears would take me to bed every night, it was difficult when I am by nature a planner and I had lost control of most things that I held dear to me, and had no clue what stress reliever was or the first step in overcoming stress.
The day in question I was fully dressed and had a speaking assignment, the speech was prepared and I was indeed ready, what happened between sitting in the waiting area and the time to go on the podium was a disaster, the only thing I remembered after that, was sitting in the rest room of the hotel with no clothes on.
There was sitting on the bathroom floor with no clothes on and my best friend steering at me with a concerned look on his face. I gathered myself, put my clothes on and we both left the compound without saying a word to each other – my mind took a break!
I ran to my Counsellor and asked a couple of questions and then he started to explain:
Although my there were no especially stressful situations, if negative reactions from previous days were still having a negative effect, it can have adverse effect. He specifically asked me to characterize my emotional state, and he heard words like hopelessness, worthlessness, nervousness, or restlessness. Persons who use these words most times are suffering from depression and/or anxiety disorders. Men normally clam up, never expressing to anyone what they may be feeling.
Those of us who reported the most negative reactions to stress 10 years earlier were those with the highest incidence of depression and anxiety. In particular, people who experienced more “bleed over” stress from day-to-day (in other words, stress from one day continued to fuel negative reactions on subsequent days) were most likely to suffer from depression and anxiety 10 years later.
Aside from reinforcing an intuitive understanding that our reactions to stressful situations can make all the difference, the experience for me made a strong case for “letting go” of negativity. Everyone is going to experience negative feelings in response to tough situations at work, home or anywhere else, but letting those feelings linger day after day has long-term consequences for our minds, it is import that we have some knowledge of overcoming stress.