Before I wrote this post, I did some research on what was being posted in the blog-sphere about how people dealing with stress should respond to stress. Here are three main topics I encountered on the issue, nutrition, sleep deprivation and exercise.
Yes it is true, your diet, the amount of sleep you get and your exercise habits are connected to your stress levels. More significantly, if I got information from a patient regarding his eating habits, how much sleep he receives and how often he gets to move around, I can take a pretty accurate guess regarding how much stress he experiences and how well he deals with his stress. However, poor diet, poor sleep and insufficient exercise are not causes of stress, they are symptoms of stress.
If that’s the case, then what causes stress? When you get into specifics, the causes of stress vary significantly from person to person, however there is a common theme for people who struggle with stress, and that is a failure to accept life on life’s terms. A simpler way to put this, is to state that people who struggle with stress are suffering the effects of habitually taking action on the misinformation they buy into.
For example, a common occurrence I notice with people who suffer from stress is that they are not getting enough done, usually this issue is two fold. Meaning, that they are not getting enough done at work and at home. They will usually go into a therapist’s office to discuss their issues with poor sleep and their desire to improve their sleep. In processing with them what thoughts habitually occupy their minds when they should be sleeping, what is revealed are worries about tasks they have not accomplished throughout the day and the day before.
My response is to have the patient document all tasks and chores that are waiting for him to accomplish, once this is done I then take a look at a day planner with him and ask him what gets in the way of accomplishing his tasks. This question usually leads to the revelation of the true source of the patient’s stress.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC, a professional counseling and life coaching practice.