Better Balance

Why you are probably under stress and don’t realise it?

By Diana Nguyen

If I asked you, “are you stressed?”, how many of you will say “not me”? When I was a lawyer, I wouldn’t think I was stressed out because it was just part and parcel with what I did – I had to handle client demands, I had to put up with micromanagement from my bosses, I had to learn and apply areas of law that were not my specialty area, and I had to learn how to manage people. It was the only life I knew and therefore I just had to put up with it. I knew no other alternative.

Having now been out of that corporate life for over a year, last month I was faced with an incident which stressed me out terribly – I had a member of my strata committee hurling abuse and accusations at me in relation to a particular matter, and it just completely threw me off guard and made my self esteem go down the sink. When I read the emails, my heart started racing, my face started to get really hot and the emotions of anger and defensiveness took over my normal brain function. This was behaviour that I typically dealt with when I was a lawyer and was fine with it, but now having been out of that world for over a year, something that I was used to dealing with now stressed me out like crazy! Why? Because I now had a different perspective to life compared to where I was a bit over a year ago.

What is stress? has this definition (among many other meanings) for stress:

“…a specific response by the body to a stimulus, as fear or pain, that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism.”

What exactly is “the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism”? This is a tough one to answer but for me it means when my body is not in pain, my mind is clear and calm, my emotions are generally in check (in a healthy way and I am not suppressing emotions that want to come out) and I am at peace – ie. I am not affected by external factors.

Now, before we move on, let me be clear – there are stresses that are more beneficial than others. For example, exercising (if done correctly) is a good stress on the body. Being yelled at by your boss, not so much.

Based on the above, I’m going to list a couple of things that I believe would make you stressed out in a not so good way:

  • If you’re single, feeling like you are never going to meet the person of your dreams even though you have tried so many different avenues;
  • Having constant migraines, headaches or constant body pain (e.g. neck, shoulder, back pain);
  • Feeling like you’re not going to be able to make ends meet from a financial perspective;
  • Having a micromanaging boss who doesn’t seem to appreciate your skills nor seem to trust you to do your job right;
  • Being a parent to children and feeling like you are getting no support from your partner or feeling helpless as you can’t seem to be able to understand your child’s needs;
  • Working long days constantly;
  • Lack of decent sleep;
  • So much going on at work or in your life when you just can’t think clearly; and
  • Feeling like you have to take up so much work because others can’t do it (or refuse to).

So, let me ask you again, “are you stressed?” … and by the way, the incident that happened to me last month confirmed that my decision to leave the corporate world was a very good one indeed 😊 Everyone deserves to not be stressed out – so make sure you reflect on what in your life may be causing your stress and start making some choices to address it to live a more balanced and healthier life. You deserve to be like the person in the picture below!

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