The more obvious topics such as ‘identifying stressors,’ ‘dealing with stress, coping with stress,’ ‘overcoming stress,’ ‘indications that you are stressed …’ have taken center stage. BUT, until the intrinsic underlying mechanisms that support the development of stress, and its later psychosomatic expression are understood, the possibility of dealing with this monster may remain a mirage that we never get to.
At its basic description, STRESS is the BODY’S way of RESPONDING to any kind of DEMAND or THREAT; real or imagined, and the 21st century offers a lot of such demands and threats. According to the DISCREPANCY THEORY, individuals utilize internalized ‘self-guides’ as standards to ‘judge’ themselves. That is, when faced by a demanding or threatening situation, individuals evaluate the discrepancy between the demands or threats vis-a-vis their perceived capacity to meet such demands. The greater the gap between the demands and perceived capacity to mitigate them, the greater the emotional discomfort the individual is likely to experience. Two scenarios arise from this conceptualization;
(i) When a problem is perceived to be within an individual’s capabilities, then strategies are put in place to deal with the problem,
(ii) When a challenge is perceived as beyond an individual’s capabilities, resulting in emotional and psychological turmoil.
This second scenario results in deployment emotional strategies to deal with threatening situations, and stress may be inevitable when such strategies are not coupled with the appropriate thoughts and actions. Of importance to note here is the word ‘perceived’…the indication that such representation of self may not necessarily be quantifiable, but rather a lack of belief in one’s capabilities, i.e. low self-efficacy beliefs (where self-efficacy refers to the optimistic self-belief in our competence or abilities to successfully accomplish a task and produce favourable results)
The idea is, don’t wish for less challenging situations in life, rather, work to build your mental, physical, social and financial capacity to meet the demands that will definitely arise.
The 21st-century realities need to be matched with requisite abilities if current stress levels are to be mitigated. More important, in the wake of cut-throat competition in personal, corporate, and business worlds brought about by technological advancement, individuals hoping not to be swallowed by the bottomless pit of the 21st-century stresses must increase their hard skills, as well as their soft skills. We all must all go to the grindstone to hone our skills and let SKILL MASTERY be our starting point, EXCELLENCE be our modus operandi, then grace all these with OPTIMISTIC SELF-BELIEF in your competences and abilities to successfully accomplish a task and produce favourable results.
Building capacity in this manner ensures that the gap between daily demands and our abilities to meet them is forever narrowing, and stress levels go down with then!