We often develop certain coping mechanisms to reduce the burden that we feel when facing challenges. One such thought process is, if we don’t admit that something exists, then that thing can not affect us. You may not have made this declaration outright, but you have likely shown it in your actions; statements such as “out of sight, out of mind” support this thought process.
Actions such as refusing to go to the doctor when you experience significant pain/discomfort and saying that it is “not that bad” also perpetuates this idea. Even in times of high stress, we may begin to understate our stress in hopes of not giving it any “power” over us.
Denying the existence of something, in this case, stress does not make it go away. Instead, this course of action causes it to lie underneath the surface and begin to fester like an infection, which causes damage to you psychologically and physiologically. You can not adequately address an issue whose existence you refuse to acknowledge. The first step to solving any problem is admitting that there is one, and stress is no different. Not everyone has a stress-filled life or has an issue with managing their stress responses.
However, for those who are still learning to manage stress, you must first admit that you have stress in your life before change can take place.Another thought process that we need to address is: “If you avoid something long enough, it will go away or work itself out.”Unlike denial, we recognize that the stress (distress) is there, but we refuse to address it. In this case, we treat stress as a self-limiting occurrence that will resolve without assistance or an inconvenience that we must ignore to get to our goals.
In actuality, ignoring stress does not make it go away; it increases the risk of health-related complications via suppression. Suppressing processes in the body will increase the stress load on the body. Although your body adapts to compensate for prolonged increases in stress levels, these compensations tend to lean towards adverse health outcomes such as inflammation, hypertension, diabetes, anxiety, decreased immune function, etc. You might want to consider some of the other adverse effects outside of the adverse health outcomes that we can see when we avoid or deny our stress.
Contrary to popular opinion, refusal to address stress does not improve your ability to accomplish goals. Studies have shown that unaddressed stress can decrease productivity, increase fatigue and brain fog, and lead to poorer performance outcomes. Admitting that we have stress is step one, but we must also take the next step and address it. When we avoid these steps, we miss out on a critical element in our journey towards wholeness.