When most people think about stress, they often relate it to an external event or person causing it. We know that things like workload, relationships, and unplanned events can all add to our stress levels. However, our negative thinking, ambitions, and inner judgment can also add to our stress levels, resulting in what we know as self-imposed stress.
What Is Self-Imposed Stress?
One could argue that events and people don’t cause stress. Instead, it’s our interpretation of the event and how we choose to process it that triggers stress. Under this concept, all stress is self-imposed, and we make a choice to allow these situations to cause stress.
The Dangers of Self-Imposed Stress
When we don’t recognize that stress can be self-imposed, we can fall into a negativity cycle that only makes our anxiety and pressure feel worse. Some of the dangers of self-imposed stress include:
- Having constant unhealthy thoughts
- Anxiety and fear triggers
- Risk of depression or panic attacks
- Risk of substance abuse
How to Fight Self-Imposed Stress
The first step to fighting self-imposed stress is to acknowledge its existence. You have to be honest with yourself, to the point that you can pinpoint when you’re adding unnecessary pressure to yourself. Once you’re able to do that, you can start taking meaningful steps to fight back and regain control of your serenity.
Recognize the Signs
You already know that stress affects your health and body in many ways. Recognizing signs of burnout is an easy way to notice when stress is taking over. Please pay attention to those moments of high stress and understand what’s causing them. Is it under your control, or are you focusing on the “what if”? Many times self-imposed pressure comes from worrying about things out of our control or that are in the future. Keep your warning signs in tune to make sure you know exactly when you’re doing more worrying than doing.
Prioritize Work-Life Balance
When you have a type-A personality or are overly ambitious, it’s easy to get caught up in self-imposed pressure to be the ultimate best. Beware of these personality traits, while our cultures often celebrate these behaviors, they can be quite self-disruptive in the end.
Take the time to analyze your work-life balance and draw healthy boundaries to help you maintain stress in your life. Prioritize things like meditation, self-care, and exercise to make sure that you’re nourishing your wellbeing no matter how long your to-do list is.
Tone Down Your Self-Talk
We all have one, and we all listen to it — our inner voice. Sometimes, our inner voice encourages us to keep going with positive affirmations. On occasions, our inner voice turns dark, and we start having negative self-talk conversations that keep fueling our stress levels.
Being an optimistic person about everything happening in the world, and your life right now might be too much of an ask. Instead, I invite you to become an optimistic realistic. If positive affirmations and bright rainbows don’t cut it for you, turn into a bit of a sarcastic person and acknowledge the reality of things. Having optimistic thinking can bring positive things into your life versus negative attracting bad things. Try it.
Accept Your Weaknesses
Feeding off that last advice, accepting your weaknesses will help you vanish your self-imposed stress. But, the reality is that when you stop putting pressure on yourself and give yourself a break, stress will slowly but steadily melt away.
Try to forgive yourself for past mistakes, incorporate loving-kindness meditation, find ways to turn your weaknesses into valuable assets. Out of every resource, this is the most significant to manage your stress levels.
Acknowledge Your Disorder
It’s important to note that perfectionism isn’t just a personality trait, it can be a disorder. When you consider yourself not to be enough to tackle your tasks or your daily activities, you are essentially self-sabotaging.
When you’re able to look at the different ways we self-impose stress, it will be easier to control. Remember that focusing on your mental health, wellbeing, and overall health is key to manage stress levels regardless of how uncertain things are around you. The power to keep stress at bay lies within you.