We all have minor annoyances that plague us every day. You are late to a meeting because there was an accident on the expressway. You forget your phone and miss your train. The Wi-Fi goes out just as you need to be on an important Zoom meeting. We think of these happenings as part of everyday life and rather innocuous. But experts say these “micro-stressors” can be a big problem. They disrupt our lives and can make you feel powerless and drained. Low-level stress can add up to feelings of anxiety and even depression. It can impact your health and immunity, which isn’t good with nasty viruses hanging around. Doctors have noticed that during the pandemic people did manage the big stress in their lives, but let the minor things get them down.
To the outside world these micro-stressors may seem trivial, people may actually think you have anger issues, but it is just the accumulation of all these minor things taking their toll. Of course, you also won’t get the same support you would receive with major stress like losing a job, but the effects on your health can be just as bad. Nobody is going to send flowers if you have a bad commute. So, we soldier on and don’t mention these minor stresses.
So, how do we cope with these micro-stressors? Acknowledge these moments and think of why they bother you. All situations are different as to how we deal with it. The way you feel about these stressors could have to do with how you are feeling physically in the moment. Are you eating well? Are you well rested? Sometimes we tend to do the opposite of what we need to do when stressed. We work through lunch. We cancel dinner plans. We exercise less. These stressors can lead to bad decision making. Drinking, junk food, and simply hiding yourself away is exactly the wrong way to deal.
So, stay fortified to prevent bad reactions to stress. Eat a good diet. Get daily exercise, especially outside as we talked about last week. Get enough good sleep. Realize and acknowledge these stressors as they come up. Stay healthy and aware. You too can be that type of person that just lets these minor annoyances slip away rather than letting them stick and ruin your health and life.
Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago