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Understanding Daily Stress
Daily Stress - what exactly is it, and why should you pay attention to it?
The World Health Organization has named stress as the number one health challenge of the 21st century. Stress is an integral part of our everyday lives, necessary not just for survival but also for thriving. Proclamations of stress have become part of our core everyday vocabulary, being uttered with equal frequency and as nonchalantly as exclamations of tiredness and hunger. Yet, stress is still largely poorly understood.
Perhaps contrary to popular belief, events are not in and of themselves stressors. According to Folkman and Lazarus’ seminal work on the Transactional Model of Stress, events only become “stressors” once we assess them as important to us and beyond our abilities to cope with. In this way, any event, external (e.g. deadline) or internal (e.g. a negative thought, or bodily discomfort), has the potential to be, or not be, a stressor depending on how we perceive it.
As such, anything can be a stressor, from major life events (e.g. a death of someone close to you, an accident), to enduring events (e.g. financial instability, chronic pain), all the way to the minute daily hassles, also known as daily stressors.
Daily stressors are the small, persistent challenges that punctuate our everyday lives. Unlike major life events, daily stressors can often go unnoticed. It’s the spilled coffee in the morning, the missed bus on the way to work, the unpleasant comment by the water-cooler, the important presentation, the cancelled babysitter, to name only a few examples. Our daily lives are replete with these moments. On their own, daily stressors may appear entirely unthreatening, almost insignificant. However, if left unchecked, they can have a meaningful cumulative effect on our well-being.
In fact, repeated and prolonged exposure to daily stressors can lead to what is known as stress sensitisation. That is an increased response to routine events, which over time can precipitate a host of ailments in both the mind and the body. In short, how we experience these events is directly linked to our well-being, and has a ripple effect on every aspect of our lives.
Increased stress frequency and prolonged stress recovery are two key indicators of stress sensitisation. Specifically, an increase in stress frequency suggests that minor daily events are being perceived as more stressful. In other words, what may have gone unnoticed in the past, is now eliciting a meaningful response across several systems. In addition, it is harder to recover from these events, taking increasingly long to return to Calm. Together this translates to more time experiencing stress, which can ultimately overload the system and have a lasting impact on our well-being.
NOWATCH empowers you in fostering greater well-being by giving you the tools to understand what makes you more sensitive to daily stress (e.g. time asleep, completed sleep cycles, activity type, time of day, etc.), when and how to manage it in the moment, and build resilience over time by integrating small habit changes into your daily life.
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