Reduce Stress : Calculate Your Personal Stress Profile (part 3) - Your Stress Vulnerability Factors

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11. Part III: Your Stress Vulnerability Factors

Unlike stress triggers, stress vulnerabilities have to do with your personal tendencies. Everyone’s stress triggers are different, but, in addition, everyone’s personality and personal vulnerabilities to certain areas of stress are also different. You and a friend might both have stressful jobs, but you might be particularly sensitive to job stress, obsessing over work to the point that your stress is much more than it should be. Your friend may be better able to approach job stress in a healthy way. You both might have two children, but your friend may be particularly vulnerable to obsessive worrying about her children, while you feel more in control of your dependent-related stress.

For this section, each answer reveals different areas in which you are particularly vulnerable to stress. Your vulnerabilities lie in the following areas if you checked the noted answers.

12. Too Much Alone Time

An extrovert is someone who may relish time alone but who feels drained of energy after too much time away from other people. Extroverts require plenty of social contact to keep their energy high. They work best in groups and may find working alone virtually impossible because they can’t get motivated. Personal relationships are extremely important to extroverts, who often feel incomplete without a partner. Extroverts tend to have lots of friends and to rely on their friends for energy, support, and satisfaction.

Extroverts often don’t know what they think until they say it. They often think things through out loud. Friend therapy, journaling, group therapy, meditation classes, exercise classes, and massage therapy are particularly effective for extroverts.

13. Not Enough Alone Time

An introvert is someone who may enjoy other people but who feels drained of energy after too much social contact. Introverts require time alone to recharge after spending time with people and find it difficult to accomplish anything productive with lots of people around. Introverts are good at working alone in a home office or at a remote location. While introverts aren’t necessarily shy and can benefit immensely from rewarding personal relationships, they also need time alone. Introverts tend to think about what they say before they speak. Sometimes, introverts can seem, and feel, distant. That may be a sign that it is time for some alone time. In some cases, however, it may be a sign that you are spending too much time alone. Seek balance!

14. The Caretaker Conundrum

One area worrywarts tend to specialize in is worry about their dependents. Learning to deal with the stress of caretaking means admitting, first, that the stress is there, then taking measures to care for yourself as well as for your dependents. It isn’t selfish. You can’t be a good caretaker if you neglect your own physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Self-care stress management in its many forms is exceptionally important for caretakers, and that includes making room for your own creativity and self-expression. Don’t be afraid to admit the whole complex slew of feelings you have about your caretaking responsibilities—intense love, anger, joy, resentment, appreciation, sadness, irritation, and happiness.

15. Financial Pressure

Money is a huge source of stress for many people and a common area of stress vulnerability. Do you think that enough money really would solve all your problems? Do you spend time every single day worrying about having enough money for what you need or want? Do you obsess about where you put your money, whether your money is working for you, how you might be able to make money?

If money is an area of vulnerability for you, focus on stress management techniques that help you to take responsibility for your current financial situation (if that’s the problem) and to regard finances in a whole-life perspective.

Money really can’t buy happiness, but freedom from financial stress can certainly help push you in that direction!

16. Family Dynamics

Family is another big area of stress for many people. Our families have an intimate knowledge of who we are, or who we used to be, and that can be stressful, especially if we’re trying to escape who we used to be.

Although all families are stressful to some extent, for some people, families are particularly taxing because of a dysfunctional aspect or because of past events that are painful. If your family is an area of stress for you, you may benefit by making amends or by deciding to move on. You may be estranged from your family or fully in their clutches on a daily basis. Either way, recognizing family stress is the first step to managing it. You might consider techniques that bolster your people skills or routines that strengthen the foundation of your own self-esteem. Journaling and other creativity techniques can be highly effective for dealing with family stress, and don’t forget friend therapy.

17. Obsessive Worrying

Being a worrywart is really just a bad habit (in some cases, a compulsion) that is immensely stressful. Learning how to stop worrying can be an empowering life skill that will change your daily existence more dramatically than you ever imagined. Thought control and worry stopping are great techniques to learn. Exercise also provides a great break from worry, especially when it’s challenging. You can’t worry if your mind is immersed in those yoga moves or that kickboxing routine. Most importantly, focus on relearning how to worry effectively. Worry about things you can change, as a means to figure out how to change them. If you can’t change something, worrying about it is just a big waste of time.

18. Need for Validation

Going through life constantly on the lookout for how you appear to others can obliterate the real you. Image obsession is stressful, and, even if a certain amount of “cool” is important for your career or even your personal satisfaction, keeping image in perspective is as important as keeping any other aspect of your life in perspective.

Image stress is a big problem for adolescents, but even adults can fall prey. Look for stress management techniques that help you to get in touch with the inner you. The better you know the you inside, the more superficial and uninteresting the outer you will become. Know yourself and, ironically, your image will improve anyway.

19. Lack of Self-Control, Motivation, Organization 

You cause yourself more stress than is necessary because you haven’t taken control of your personal habits, thoughts, or life. No, you can’t control everything, and, if you try to control everything, you’ll be vulnerable to control issues on the other side. However, to a large extent, you can control what you do, how you react, and even how you think and perceive the world.

We can control our dietary habits, our exercise schedules, our impulse to say unkind things, our road rage, our tendency to bite our fingernails or chew on pencil erasers, or never put away our things when we are finished using them. These are simply habits, and, if a habit is causing you stress, then why not change it? Is breaking a habit difficult? Just for a little while. Living with chronic stress is a lot more difficult. Look for stress management techniques that help you to take control: Get organized, get healthy, and be responsible.

20. Need to Control

You’ve got control issues on the other side of the fence. You like to have control because you really believe you know best, and you probably do much of the time. We all want to be recognized for our accomplishments, and one of your strengths is a healthy self-esteem. But like anything else, self-esteem can be carried too far. Remember, seek balance! You can benefit by stress management techniques that help you to go with the flow. You don’t need to be told to “just do it.” You “just do it” all the time, unlike the rest of those slackers! The trick for you is to “just let it be.”

21. Your Job/Career

If your job is an area of stress for you, concentrate on practicing stress management techniques that work in the office (even if it’s a home office) and those that target the kind of stress you are likely to encounter on the job. In addition, make a special commitment to keep sacred your prework preparation time and your postwork decompression time. Spend fifteen to thirty minutes before and after work each day practicing the stress-relieving technique of your choice to create a cushion around your workday.

22. Low Self-Esteem

While you may handle work stress with aplomb, you become vulnerable to attacks on your self-esteem. Maybe a comment about your weight or age throws you into a tailspin. Maybe you see yourself in a shop window while walking down the street and the negative impression you get deflates your confidence for the rest of the day.

Self-esteem isn’t just about appearance. If you believe someone is questioning your competency, do you become unreasonably defensive or suddenly insecure? Many stress management techniques focus on bolstering self-esteem. The most important thing to remember is that self-esteem, just like your body, requires maintenance. Seek out sources for affirmations and positive self-talk to keep feeling good about yourself. Assertiveness training may help you to put less stock in the careless comments of others.

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