So I have this roommate.
We shall call her Foreigner (she’s from a European country).
She is very rough around the edges, tries to be hardcore, puts off the vibe that she doesn’t care, doesn’t want to be bothered, and is constantly stressed out to the max.
I’ve had many talks with her about her attitude and how she is (especially with guys). She is aware of it and wants to change but doesn’t really know how. Underneath it all she is kind, loyal, caring, and is just scared overall of letting people in. I love this side of her but the side that she shows on the outside is very difficult and taxing to deal with.
The most annoying part of all of it is when she’s stressed. Her stress is almost contagious and is the type that makes you feel like you’re on on edge just by being in her presence. Like you have to be stressed too, and it’s the fast-paced, jittery, rushing around kind. The kind that you can breathe a sigh of relief when it goes out the door.
I had a stress psychobiology class last year as well as a health psychology class in which both discussed the effects of stress on the body and on the mind. The long and short of your anatomy lesson for the day, is that the sympathetic nervous system is what initiates stress or the “fight or flight” response, and the parasympathetic nervous system slows it down or is the cool down phase.
In class the example of a lion chasing a zebra was used. The sypathetic nervous system (complete with adrenaline) kicks in while the zebra is trying to escape, and once there is no sign of danger and it is safe the parasympathetic system will bring the body back to its normal state.
The problem with humans is that usually our stressors are not equivalent to being chased by a lion. Our stressors include daily things such as money problems, failing something or someone, crushed expectations of the self or others, car problems, work, family issues, love life, obligations, kids, etc. The list can go on and on, and the problem with stressors such as these is that we continue to think about them. They marinate on the grill of our brains until it’s completely burned out and charred.
The sympathetic nervous system stays turned on, while the parasympathetic nervous system sits idly by- not being able to turn it off, thus causing the awful effects of chronic stress on the body and brain.
What makes the Foreigner’s stress even worse is that she internalizes everything. If she fails a test, she attributes it to her lack of competence, her stupidity, and her not working hard enough (when clearly she does). She then generalizes it into thinking that she’s going to fail the class, not get into her program, fail out of school, and have to move home. She gets in her own and head and even thinking that way is stressful.
Foreigner is just such an interesting person to me in the way that she deals with stress in particular. Love her to pieces but she is so completely different than me and it’s hard for me to understand her thought process sometimes.
Even when I had the stress class, it just fascinated me because I honestly don’t know that I get stressed… at least not how most people do. My thinking is always more on the side of “Hmm that sucks. Oh well, better luck next time.” If it’s something more serious, I deal with it and just have faith that either it happened for a reason, or that it will get better. If I’m really really upset about something immediate I just cry for awhile,
pop pills take 3-4 Ibuprofen to ward off the oncoming headache, and sleep it off. When I wake up the problem may still be there but the seriousness and emotion of it are a lot more dulled, and my thinking is a lot more clear.
In my stress class, as coping strategies they had us keeping track of our stress levels and doing breathing exercises and things such as visualization or relaxing our muscles to see if it reduced our stress. The whole thing just seemed ridiculous to me personally because I didn’t feel the need to begin with.
I’ve tried to figure out why this is… if maybe I just haven’t experienced life stressors and don’t know the real woes of stress yet? Or maybe I’m just too lazy to be bothered by things? Chalk it up to personality differences? Faith?
My question I’m curious about is this: Does other peoples’ stress make you stressed more than your own? Do you personally get stressed? If you do to any extent how do you cope with it?