Stress: Why Do You Care?

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Are you experiencing stress? Why should you care? It may mean that something or someone you care about is involved. According to Dan Harris in the Ten Percent Happier Stress Better Meditation Challenge Series, stress can be a signal that something matters to you. Professor Modupe Akinola of Columbia University suggests that when you realize you are stressed try to find out why you care. She calls this a ‘reappraisal’ of the stress and states that one way to NOT feel as much stress is to figure out the underlying reason why you care. Rather than focusing on the cause of the stress, focus on why you care about what’s causing the stress.

Here are some steps they suggest from the Ten Percent Happier Stress Better Challenge:

  • Tune in to your feeling of stress: Know when your body feels stressed, be aware of when it is happening, and notice. 
  • Ask yourself the following questions: 
    • Why am I stressed about this?
    • Why do I care about this? 
    • Is there an opportunity here related to this stress? 

Recently, I have been feeling stressed over a family issue. When I tune into my feeling of stress, I notice my neck muscles are tense, my stomach is churning, and my jaw is tight. Then I ask why am I stressed about this and why I care. I care because my family is important to me and I value their safety and comfort. This line of thinking is helping me see the stress as an opportunity to think about my role more clearly and pathways to possibly thinking about the issue differently. Stress can be a path to finding out what matters. I start asking myself ‘What can I learn from this?’ I feel less resistant and more open to what may come next. This is happening right now and I am meant to learn from it.