The Anatomy of Stress

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Dead Lock

In the "anatomy of emotions series" I dont only mention the reasons behind experiencing certain emotions but i also provide effective techniques that can help you get rid of these emotions. (see The anatomy of social anxiety,The anatomy of acceptance and The anatomy of depression.

If you are familiar with the world of computer databases then you may have heard of the term deadlock. A deadlock is a situation where two or more functions try to access the CPU resources at the same time and as a result both of them never do it.

Am sure computer folks will be very happy with this article ;)

So what does this has to do with stress? Actually deadlocks and stress are almost the same thing, but in the case of stress, there are two thoughts that occupy your mind at the same time.

The Anatomy of stress

Sam was busy replying to late emails when suddenly his wife called and asked him to buy her something with his credit card because her card was not working.

Suddenly Sam’s boss comes in and asked him to finish an important assignment before noon. At this point sam’s stress doubled. He started shouting at everyone and when his wife called for the second time he hung up without saying a word.

Let’s examine this situation together. Sam’s mind was deeply involved in answering the mails and when his wife called her request demanded an additional part of his mind then his boss demanded another part resulting in a deadlock.

All of these events contributed to Sam's stress. Had his wife called after he replied to the mails or had his boss came after he finished all his tasks he wouldn’t have felt stressed even though he would have done the same amount of work.

This is how stress happened. You become very occupied with something and so whenever another task demands any of your already locked mind resources you become stressed.

What causes stress

Up to this point you may be wondering why do you sometimes feel stressed even when you are working on one task only. This happens because a deadlock occurs when anything tries to occupy your mind while you are busy even if it was some noise. To make it clear I will write down a list of items that can result in a deadlock, if they took place while you are doing another task.

  • Thinking about something else:If you were working but at the same time you were thinking of your shopping list then you may get stressed
  • External Factors: Poor lighting, noise, bad weather or even wanting to go to the toilet could cause stress if accompanied by another task.
  • Suppressed problems: If you keep thinking about the problems you are currently facing while working then surly you will get stressed
  • Stressful problems: Even if you are working on one task, if an unexpected problem occurred during the procedure it might stress you out because your mind will become occupied with both; the unfinished task and the new problem.

How to overcome stress

In order to overcome stress you should try to limit these deadlocks or even get rid of them completely. The following are some very effective techniques that can prevent deadlocks and so reduce stress:

  • Respond to your subconscious mind: In my book, The ultimate guide to getting over depression I explained how responding in a timely manner to the messages your subconscious mind sends to you can help you reduce stress and prevent depression. Always keep a small notebook with you or a piece of paper while working or studying and whenever you remember an unfinished task just write it down. By doing so you will be notifying your subconscious mind that you will proceed with those tasks later and so there will be no need for stress.
  • Have a stress free work environment: When you are about to study or work, make sure that the chair you will be sitting on is comfortable, that the lighting is adequate and that all other external factors are favorable so that you don't get stressed because of any of them
  • Start by small tasks: If you have two tasks to finish your mind will be thinking of both at the same time. It’s better to get rid of the small one first in order to prevent stress . Many people fall into the mistake of proceeding with the more difficult task first and as a result they get stressed because they spend more time thinking about both

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