3 Ways to Make Stress Worse

3 Ways to Make Stress Worse

3 Ways to Make Stress Worse

Stress is the tension between reality and what we imagine reality should be.


If you want to make stress really intense I’ve got some suggestions:

  • Complain to all of your friends. Completely obsess over every detail. Replay the crappy stuff over and over again. Get hundreds of opinions about what you should do and then don’t do anything.
  • Take on more. Really. Ask for more projects. Happily agree to lead the PTA, drive carpool and cook dinner. Don’t you dare ask for help or delegate anything. Saying “no” wouldn’t be polite.
  • Blame your stress on everyone else: the economy, your kids, your husband, your job, your health, your doctor, anything and everything that doesn’t involve you. This way you don’t have to change anything. (No one likes change.)

Complaining, overloading and blame. These will definitely make stress worse. If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve had some good firsthand experience spinning yourself into a tizzy.

Of course I’m being presumptuous. There is a good chance you want to make stress better. If that is your goal, avoid doing all of the above. Instead focus on what is in your control, delegate and take responsibility. Sometimes easier said than done, but always worth a try.

10 thoughts on “3 Ways to Make Stress Worse

  1. Maureen Lynch Bocardo

    What stresses me most is my sister complaining because I refuse to volunteer more than I have time to do. She, on the other hand, complains about having to do everything for everyone else. She hates it when I tell her she doesn't have to do it all. I keep telling her "Kids are like houseplants. If you give them too much water, they drown or too little water they die. Her 16 year old son can't even make himself a sandwich, wash his own clothes, make his bed or do any chores around the house. His 26 year old sister has moved home. She can't even boil water. She has two dogs and never buys dog food. As their mother has always done everything for them, they're pretty much invalids.
    I live with my 91 year old mother. As with my sons, I give her lots of loving neglect. Instead of waiting on her hand and foot, I say, "Mom wouldn't you like a cup of tea?" When she says, "Yes," I respond, "Then, you need to get out of your chair and make yourself one. You need to get up and move around a bit every hour." I also drop her off with other senior citizens to swim 3 times a week. What do I do for her other than give her lots of loving neglect? Well, I take caps off of bottles. I gotten rid of the throw rugs. She has a big walk-in shower with hand rails and a place to sit while she bathes herself. It's no coincidence the word "invalid" meaning "worthless" is spelled the same as "invalid" meaning unable to care for oneself. My mother isn't an invalid. My sister's children are invalids.

    1. Danea Post author

      Hi Maureen,

      I’m so sorry you’re having to cope with so much on your plate. It has to be challenging to manage all of these responsibilities. Do you take time for yourself? If so, how do you spend it? What reduces your stress? What rejuvenates your energy? Even small moments of self-care can make a big difference in our day. Thinking of you…

  2. Rick Aucoin

    Why do people, like your sister in this story, insist on making their lives more difficult? They *insist* on it, and will argue till they are weeping if you try to convince them they are making their lives harder than they need to be.

    1. Danea Post author

      Thanks for joining the conversation Rick! The short answer is that they are getting some benefit from it. Real stress management only comes from deciding to take ownership of the challenges that come into our lives.

  3. Maureen Lynch Bocardo

    She's a control freak. She refuses to delegate anything. She claims if she doesn't do it, it won't be done right. Then, I have to listen to her complain. She doesn't want me to let my mother alone in the kitchen or bathroom either. Hell…my mother is perfectly competent…more so than my sister. At least, Mom asks for help when she can't do something by herself instead of complaining.
    Crap…my sons have been cooking, washing, ironing and even sewing since before they were in high school. They'll make great wives for some woman. :)

  4. Rick Aucoin

    My wife regularly insist on doing things the hard way, and when I ask her why she doesn't do it "ABC way", it turns into an argument that ends up, ultimately, with "I just don't want to do it that way".
    It happens with a lot of people, so I have limited sympathy for people who are stressed out and suffering from it, when they bring it on themselves.