Lower Your Stress Level by Understanding How Stress Forms

By Dr. Jack Singer

In some of my past blog posts, I discussed corporate wellness programs and a recent study that found that companies that have wellness programs outperform those who do not. This shows that corporate wellness programs do indeed impact a business’s profitability and success. On an individual level, this works because employees are healthier, take fewer days off, make fewer insurance claims, are more productive, make fewer mistakes, and have greater morale.

Every company has the freedom to design their own corporate wellness program and every person can be empowered to take wellness into their own hands.

Wellness can include things related to physical health, mental health, diet, and fitness. Although all offer unique angles to wellness, mental health is vitally important because you CAN take control of the stress in your life – and doing so will help your physical health as well.

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How Stress Forms

Stress is the key cause of mental health issues. Stress will cause worry, anxiety, negative thought patterns, and as I will discuss in my next blog post, physical symptoms. Stress impacts our mental health because it affects how we feel, think, act, and make choices in our daily lives.

The most misunderstood aspect of stress is how stress forms. People think that events in their lives cause them stress. For example, if a financial advisor receives an angry call from a client who is displeased with his or her portfolio numbers, the financial advisor would say that the call caused the stress.

This is wrong.

Stress is not caused by specific events in your life – it is caused by your interpretation of the event. The phone call itself was a stressor – meaning it had the potential to cause stress. However, the actual stress you feel is caused by how you interpret that stressor.

The call may have been interpreted as a personal failure, instead of recognizing that the portfolio performance was caused by market fluctuations. The phone call may have set multiple negative thoughts into action, such as how can I handle this, am I going to lose this client, and is my practice doomed to fail?

The key to lowering your stress level, therefore, is understanding how stress forms. Stress is your reaction to a stressor. It is your interpretation of events.

You CAN Change How You Interpret Events

Fortunately, we have choices about how we interpret things. It is possible to teach people how to understand their internal dialog when they interpret events so they can recognize when they are going off on a tangent that will cause stress. This is why mental health is such an important aspect of overall wellness. Learning how to manage and avoid stress will improve your mental health – making you a stronger, more competent worker.

In the next blog post, I will discuss how improving your mental health can improve your physical health as well.