Tackling Micro Stresses: How to Bounce Back From Life’s Little Challenges

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Though they may seem innocuous, 

micro-stresses can amount to a lot of strain 

The next volume of your life titled, Vitality

The mounting pressure builds, with no way to stop 

Til it bursts forth like a torrent, our souls on the drop 

It creeps in slowly, yet quickly takes hold 

Sending us to dark places where we can’t feel whole 

The power of micro-stresses big damages can wreck 

And leave us feeling helpless, but dig deep to find that strength 

And put that Micro stress in check

Micro-stresses can have a huge impact on our day-to-day lives. We’re usually aware of them but it’s the significance of what’s causing discontent that gets ignored until it compounds and becomes something dire. Things such as forgetting your charger at home, a train delay that will make you late for work/event, or a power/water outage in your building will leave you demoralized and frustrated. Experts say micro-stressors are a “big problem” and not something trivial that should be disregarded. Events that disrupt the routines that we follow in our lives and are beyond our control can make us feel vulnerable and exhausted. Additionally, this can result in a sense of imbalance when under the pressure of a highly demanding life that needs your complete attention.  

Dr. Samantha Boardman, a New York-based psychiatrist recalled during her observations dealing with clients during the pandemic was an interesting experience due to the fact that people could endure the big, bold stressors in their lives such as relationships and work, but had a challenge handling the little things that caused them to feel defeated. This dichotomy seems perplexing because you would think it should be the other way around, however, as mentioned before it’s the compounding effects that make the little things, or as the saying goes “don’t sweat the small stuff” pernicious. Furthermore, it’s these types of minute things that require minimal effort that usually cause the most frustration and it’s hard to fathom when you’re in the middle of a stressful situation, but through communication and being pragmatic, answers are found. One effective way Dr. Boardman said worked for her when it came to dealing with the inability to cope with minor stresses in her life, was to isolate each issue and come to an understanding on how to resolve it. This improved her perspective and she realized that to the outside world, the micro stresses she and many others have to experience may seem trivial but unless you’re in that person’s predicament it’s best to save your judgments and acknowledge their efforts to find solutions. With respect to that, acknowledgment is the most imperative mindset to have when experiencing micro stressors. The reason is, acknowledging micro stressors and understanding why it’s bothering you is better than fleeing from the problem because that problem can exacerbate the situation and therefore it’ll become an arduous one to resolve. “All stress is potential stress,” said Dr. Boardman, and all stress is not created equal. It’s our interpretation of them and how we react to them will vary depending on the situation and the mental state of the individual. Moreover, all these factors are in a way nullified once it drives out rational behavior when an individual is under pressure. Some individuals will double down and intensify their micro stresses and do the opposite of what should be done which obviously isn’t conducive to your mental health. In other words, being vexed can lead to bad decision making such as turning to coping mechanisms such as alcohol, porn, and drugs, and reducing exercise and social interactions to name a few.  All these things are used to fill a void but their alleviating effects are temporary and the supply is always available and abundant, so the constant “refuel” is needed for satisfaction. To better elucidate this point, a professor of human development and family studies at Pennsylvania State University, researched the effects of stress by conducting a test, and the subjects were divided into two categories. The subjects who were “Velcros”, were ones who allowed stress to dominate their life and it left them prone to being irritable, grumpy, and frustrated. On the other hand, the “Teflon’s” are cognizant of the micro stresses and didn’t allow the stress to control their behavior. To put it simply, they let it slide away. 

Artwork by ShawnCoss

People who are easily upset at the moment or who are constantly dwelling on their negative feelings are susceptible to suffering physiological ailments if they cannot rectify their psychological issues. Health risks include but are not limited to cardiovascular complications, arthritis, and digestive complications, to name a few. However, the good news is that a person can fortify their brain into becoming a “Teflon” and with that, they will react with confidence and KNOW how to solve a problem even if distractions enter their way. All in all, it’s clear that micro-stress can have a significant impact on our emotional well-being. In order to cope with this, we need to be aware of our triggers, and if we don’t know where to begin therapy or speaking to a loved one candidly can help bring clarity. Not to mention, through developing emotional resilience and learning how to manage our responses to these tiny stresses, we can live healthier, more balanced lives and experience fewer symptoms of stress in the long run.

Works Cited 

The Hidden Micro-Stresses Ruling Your Life—and How to Stop Them. (n.d.). Pocket. https://getpocket.com/explore/item/the-hidden-micro-stresses-ruling-your-life-and-how-to-stop-them

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