Many of us experience stress in life, whether this is in the short term from one-off projects, or long-term stress from a high-pressure career.
Not only can this be profoundly unpleasant, it can seriously affect our health and our work. However, it is possible to manage stress, if you use the right tools and techniques.
A widely accepted definition of stress, attributed to psychologist and professor Richard Lazarus, is, “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.”
This means that we experience stress if we believe that we don’t have the time, resources, or knowledge to handle a situation. In short, we experience stress when we feel “out of control.”
This also means that different people handle stress differently, in different situations: you’ll handle stress better if you’re confident in your abilities, if you can change the situation to take control, and if you feel that you have the help and support needed to do a good job.
Everyone reacts to stress differently. However, some common signs and symptoms include:
The first step in managing stress is to understand where these feeling are coming from.
Keep a stress diary to identify the causes of short-term or frequent stress in your life. As you write down events, think about why this situation stresses you out. Also, use the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale to identify specific events that could put you at risk of long-term stress.
Then, consider using some of the approaches below to manage your stress. You’ll likely be able to use a mix of strategies from each area.
1. Action-Oriented Approaches
With action-oriented approaches, you take action to change the stressful situations, e.g.:
2. Emotion-Oriented Approaches
Emotion-oriented approaches are useful when the stress you’re experiencing comes from the way that you perceive a situation.
To change how you think about stressful situations:
3. Acceptance-Oriented Approaches
Acceptance-oriented approaches apply to situations where you have no power to change what happens, and where situations are genuinely bad.
To build your defenses against stress:
How are you coping with stress in your life?
What approach helps you the most?
Once I came across a series of notes written by American prostitutes. They looked more like case studies, describing individual clients and their ‘business’ requirements (don’t worry – they did not contain any personally identifiable information).
I was surprised to discover that quite a large number of clients described in those notes were married, loved their wives and overall had very happy families. “Why do they go to prostitutes then?” – I wondered. “ Why do they go to prostitutes?” – wondered some of the prostitutes featured in those notes.
I got surprised even more when it turned out that some of those clients did not even want to have a ‘full’ service. Often they wanted just something pretty minor that would turn them on – and then they would go straight home to their wives to get the rest. Even some prostitutes were wondering why anyone on Earth would ever pay for that?!
Why did those men risk losing treasured families by going to prostitutes instead of asking their beloved wives for those pretty minor ‘turn ons’?
I’ve done some further research on that and discovered a few interesting memes (or myths) those men might have had in their minds (consciously or subconsciously).
1. ‘Hot’ vs. ‘Cold’
Men are usually looking for faithful long-term partners as they fear potential infidelity. For that reason some men deliberately avoid ‘hot’ partners or afraid to see their partners as ‘hot’ (partners, who have high libido and are easily satisfied during the sexual act) assuming that ‘hot’ partners are more ‘risky’ and prone to infidelity. I could not find however any evidence proving that view or demonstrating correlation between ‘hotness’ and ‘infidelity’. If a person is fully satisfied (no matter how ‘hot’ this person is) why would he/she look for satisfaction elsewhere?
2. Black and White Swan syndrome
Some men are struggling with seeing ‘romantic’ and ‘sexual’ sides in the same person. They love their beautiful ‘White Swans’/wives with the most romantic love on Earth, but don’t get turned on by them as they do not see them as ‘sexual’ beings. Therefore to satisfy their biological needs these men turn to ‘black’ swans – sexual objects they have no personal connection with (e.g. porno, prostitutes etc.).
Interestingly enough, in the famous ballet ‘Swan Lake’ the roles of Odette (the White Swan) and Odile (the Black Swan) are always danced by the same ballet dancer. 😉 Or, as the Bible says, “It is good for a man to have nothing to do with a woman. But because of the desires of the flesh, let every man have his wife, and every woman her husband. Let the husband give to the wife what is right; and let the wife do the same to the husband. The wife has not power over her body, but the husband; and in the same way the husband has not power over his body, but the wife. Do not keep back from one another what is right, but only for a short time, and by agreement, so that you may give yourselves to prayer, and come together again; so that Satan may not get the better of you through your loss of self-control…”
3. Fear to be misunderstood
Some men fear to be misunderstood. They are scared that their beloved ones will leave them if they get to know all their secret sexual desires. Therefore they are struggling to open up themselves to their partners.
However it is not all gloom and doom. There are some powerful strategies that can ‘replace’ or ‘counteract’ these nasty memes. A few of them are provided below:
Having realistic expectations and focusing on ‘quality’ rather than different measureable attributes (e.g. bigger, longer, faster etc. etc. etc) might help as well. We are not talking about one of the Olympic sports after all and are not on a racing course. There is as much pleasure in the journey as in its destination 😉 .