May 052013
Reduce stress by identifying it.

Identifying where stress is coming from is the first step in over-coming it. Photo by David Castillo Dominici/

Why is it that when you try to remove the stress in your life, it only creates more? It seems like you just can’t get ahead! The more you try to live a stress-free life, things get hectic once again.

There’s a reason for this happening and it’s not exactly what you think.

People strive to lessen their stress to make their lives more manageable. They learn to say ‘no’ to the well-meaning people wanting help with the volunteer organizations; they learn to stay away from those annoying neighbors who only want to cause trouble; and they save their money knowing things will get old and break which will eventually need replacing.

 3 Types of Stress

While these antics do help to reduce a person’s stress, there is another stressor most people tend to over-look. It’s comparative to a ‘social balance’ that is expected of each other, and most of the time people take advantage of this phenomenon.

It’s the “you have more [time, money, patience, etc.] than me” guilt trip that friends and family begin to play. They notice that you have more resources and can help them after you have reduced your own stress.

You give up your stress only to take on other people’s stress.

The dynamics of transferred stress


Have you ever noticed that when you arrange things so you can be home most evenings is when someone close to you decides you have the free time to take on his or her responsibility for something? Whether it’s your partner, family or a friend, they see you have more free time than them and they take advantage of it … and you.


“You can take my kids to lessons with yours, you are going anyhow!”

“You can mow mom’s lawn since your weekends are free and I have to work.”


This is a big one; who has more money. Let’s say someone in your circle (friends or family) needs money. You’ve lessened your own stress by saving your own money for hard times. You’ve learned to budget and live below your means to have money when you need it for emergencies. You were the financially responsible one, but unfortunately, not everyone saves for a rainy day.


“I can’t help [insert name] with her rent, you have more money than I do.”

“You pay for little Johnny’s school clothes, I am broke from the cruise I took this summer!”

These are just some examples of how individuals will take advantage of you once you reduce your own stress. Being an available target now, you’ve traded stressors by giving up your stress and taking on theirs.

In a perfect world, we all should help one another without stress. It is when this help is expected and manipulated that it becomes added stressors.