How are People without Stress Different than People with It?

By Dr. Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC

When it comes to looking at the important differences of people who struggle with stress, and those who do not, the best way to go about it would be to examine the characteristics of people who fall in each category. People who struggle with common stress typically:

  1. Inability to relax: they have a chronic urgency that they should be doing something, worrying about things that needed to be finished, and worrying about the future.
  2. Overextending themselves: people with chronic stress tend to over-extend themselves. They have trouble saying “no,” and put too much on their face.
  3. They struggle with disorganization and motivation: they often procrastinate and put things off to the last second. They have trouble prioritizing and organizing themselves.
  4. They have trouble sleeping: At night their mind races, and they struggle to stop thinking about future worries. This has a significant impact on sleep.
  5. They often make a daily or weekly “to-do” list that is not possible: Not only do they over schedule, they over-plan and over-commit. They then get upset with themselves when they fall further and further behind.
  6. They feel guilty if they allow themselves time for personal care and relaxation: They feel they should be using that time in a productive way, and do not prioritize personal care of equal importance.
  7. They struggle with delays, changes in schedule, and last minute tasks they had not planned on being dropped on them: They struggle to prioritize, and figure out how to rework their day with the new tasks.
  8. They work more than is required: as they live with the fear that they are not as good at what they do, or if they do not, they could lost their job.
  9. They are extremely competitive with others and need reassurance: They need to feel that they are the best at their job, or hobby. They need to get positive feedback and reassurance that they are doing well.
  10. They become very irritable when things change: when they are up against a deadline, when something unplanned happens, or when they are not living up to their personal expectations.
  11. They are coping with chronic illness: They have been living and dealing with a chronic illness. They may be at various stages of searching for a diagnosis, getting a life changing diagnosis, or be worn down from dealing with it for so long.

People who have learned to manage their stress in healthier ways fall into certain categories and characteristics as well. Some examples of these are as follows:

  1. These individual are flexible to change, schedule adjustments, and changing deadlines: They are able to quickly reprioritize without letting it get them frazzled.
  2. They believe in continuously improving themselves, and are open to feedback: They believe that constructive criticism helps them learn and grow.
  3. They have a high level of resilience: They are able to survive and bounce back from personal struggles and disappointments in an appropriate way. They do not spend an unhealthy amount of time focusing on negative events.
  4. They have a gift for setting healthy and clear boundaries with others: They know when to say, “No,” and when to tell someone that they need some space from them. They put themselves first, and are comfortable drawing a line.
  5. They live a life with integrity: They have strong beliefs, and they are not afraid to act upon them. They volunteer, advocate, and will provide educated facts to support their point of view. They believe in action and not just words.
  6. They have a good sense of self-awareness and introspection: They are able to figure out what is at the root of their feelings and behaviors, and are able to ask for help to change these thoughts and behaviors if needed.
  7. They try to be positive in most things that they do: They genuinely believe that being negative or having a “doom and gloom” attitude, serves them no purpose.
  8. They surround themselves with likeminded people: Individuals with low stress levels, and a positive world view, are more likely to surround each other with people who feel the same. The energy feeds off each other, and they usually accomplish more as a group.
  9. They practice the skill of acceptance: They know what is and is not in their control. They focus on what they do have control over, and try and change that. This gives them a sense of control and empowerment.
  10. They practice good self-care: They know that talking time for themselves, and their own well-being, is just as important as any help they can offer to others. They understand that if they give everything they have to everyone else, they have nothing left for anyone else. They make themselves a priority.

Looking at this list of characteristics for those who suffer with stress, and those who don’t, ask yourself the kind of person that you would like to be. Ask yourself the kind of person that you need to be for your emotional and physical well-being. If you are someone with stress that wants to be less stressful, think about the characteristics and tools that these people use to maintain a state of calm and success. Start making gradual changes until many of the habits seem more and more natural for you. If you follow these steps, you can reduce your stress levels in no time, and you can focus on the things that truly matter to your overall health and harmony.

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