Stress is one of those strange things that we all know what it means to some extent just from experience, but what is it really? Does it feel like anxiety, pressure, fear...heaviness? ...What is it? Why does it even happen?
Stress can become a habit, a way of living, or it can be maybe something that occurs because your life is feeling overwhelming and you have too much going on. It's partly a mix of our ability to handle things and manage changes in our lives, but also a reflection of our own level of inner confidence and how well we feel we can handle things. The more confidence we have, the higher our self-esteem, and the more we feel like we can handle whatever comes our way. So in this way, stress is also partly a matter of perception. One person may be stressed walking across the street, whereas another wouldn't be stressed traveling to the other side of the world. So it's not a universally shared experience, which begs the question, what's the difference between different people?
Well...the difference can be the result of a lifetime of experiences and perceptions of reality as well as your learned experiences and what you've found you're able to do or not do. When something is familiar and you know how to navigate it, it can be stressful at first because it's new but then over time you learn more and more automatically how to manage it. Eventually it becomes sort of 'normal' and you learn almost on autopilot how to cope. Our brains are wired to make things easy and automatic for us after a certain amount of repetitive exposure...this can mean sometimes that we are not paying attention and in the present moment but it also makes things like driving a car, being at work, making dinner, getting groceries...well everything much much smoother and easier because we don't have to take in every single little detail.
So how does stress play into this? Well...new things, unexpected things...unfamiliar things can definitely trigger stress. This is especially true when there's something we really care about but it's unfamiliar to us. The more we care about something the easier it is to get mixed up in a lot of challenges with it. Therefore, by increasing your confidence level, self-esteem and unconditional positive regard for yourself, you can build up your tolerance and ability to handle stress. Or rather your tolerance and ability to handle new and unexpected things that you're learning to navigate.
So part of managing stress is building up your self-esteem and self-confidence. The better you feel about yourself and the more capable, the easier it is to navigate whatever comes your way.