Research on the Effects of Stress

Dr. Archie Hart is a leading expert on stress and its effects.  I had the opportunity to meet him about 4 years ago.  In his book “Adrenaline and Stress“, he addresses various sources of stress.  If we can’t name what is stressing us, we can’t see it healed.

He says,

There are many experts today who arc concerned over the “stress epidemic” in our culture. Almost every direction you look, warning signs arc up. Immunologists warn us that stress is damaging our immune systems, cardiologists warn of heart disease, cancer specialists declare that stress aggravates cancer. Dr. Joel Elkes of the University of Louisville says, “Our mode of life itself, the way we live, is emerging as today’s principal cause of illness.”

The effects of stress are causing much of our illnesses and for Hart, it’s not the big crises that are causing most of the effects–it’s the minor hassles of life.

There are two major sources of stress:  people and pain.

People:  The correlation between stress and people is mainly about experiencing fear and anger.  At times, we might feel like our security is threatened or that someone might withhold their love and approval of us.  Fear and anger cause much of the adrenaline running through our brain and bodies.  The more fear and anger we have, the more stress we’ll have.

Here are a few additional reasons why people cause us stress.

  • Hart says, “One reason is because we need them so much! We all have a need to be loved and accepted by others, and many of us will go to almost any length to achieve respect or avoid criticism. We fear rejection because we so desperately want to be thought of as having value. Our egos crave the respect of others.” (Loc. 1142-1143)
  • People are imperfect:  They can be loving and giving  but also self-serving and inconsistent.  This causes hurt and stress.
  • Lack of Coping Skills and assertiveness:  when others are inconsistent or show relational inadequacies.  We all have basic rights to be valued, heard, and respected.  We may not speak up and share what we need or want.  He says that “Under-assertiveness is the primary cause of much of the helplessness everyone feels from time to time.” (Loc. 1158-1159)
  • Lack of courage to be our true selves:  We may not know who we are which results in not being able to assert ourselves.  Or we fear being our true selves because we may not be accepted or liked.

Hart offers two assessments to identify how stressed you might be and how to analyze your stress sources (i.e. home, recreation, work, general).  Underneath each category are examples such as “Angry at spouse, financial problems, angry at boss/coworkers”.

 

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