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Anna Csurgai for One Beyond

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Know your patterns

We are all different, and we each have our own ways of detecting stress; stressors impact us at varying levels, influencing our stress levels differently. Today’s article is all about understanding yourself, emphasising the importance of recognising your patterns, while keeping in mind that we are the protagonists of our lives and providing some key takeaway thoughts and questions.

Patterns from your family

Our familial environment imparts patterns, best practices, and guidance for various aspects of our lives. We observe how our parents react to challenges in their jobs and family lives, and these behaviours shape our own responses. This unconscious programming evolves through experiences in kindergarten, elementary, high school, and university.

Patterns from school

Our relationship with performance is largely defined during our formative years in school. For many, coping mechanisms are first consciously experienced in this setting. We can develop positive habits such as open communication with friends and family about our problems or taking personal time to recharge. However, we can also adopt harmful habits like using maladaptive coping mechanisms such as excessive video consumption, following news obsessively, or turning to substances like smoking, drinking, or drugs to escape stress.

Patterns from your workplace

Our first workplaces hold a special place in our lives because they introduce us to the functioning of a workplace as we enter the labor market. Naturally, our previous patterns influence the type of workplaces we prefer and feel comfortable in, and we bring our personal coping mechanisms to each new environment.
Furthermore, we not only influence group solutions to problems but also adapt to the coping mechanisms of our peers and the company. We learn how to cope with unexpected situations, how to communicate effectively, what steps to take if initial attempts fail, and how to support one another.
While it is not solely our responsibility to change established practices within a larger community, what we can and must do is reflect on our coping strategies, identify areas for improvement, take action, and speak up when we encounter unhealthy coping patterns.

Your place in it

After considering all the environmental influences we've absorbed since childhood, it's difficult not to conclude that we should just adapt to what we've been given. Well, of course, there are some aspects of our lives when we are not in charge of making decisions and actions. But we are not there anymore. What we inherited is one thing, but how we process it and how we cope with the incoming stressors is something that we can influence, and we can make it better.

Self-knowledge and self-reflection are vital for stress awareness and management. By understanding our own patterns, we can better navigate stressors and develop healthier coping mechanisms. To facilitate this process, below are some thought-provoking questions:

Takeaway questions:

Family Experience:

  • How do you recall stress being managed or expressed within your family while growing up?
  • What was your feeling: could your parents communicate their issues with each other?
  • What were the primary stressors in your family environment, and do you notice any similarities between those and your current stress triggers?
  • Reflect on the coping mechanisms you observed or adopted from your family members when dealing with stress. Are these mechanisms still effective or do they contribute to your stress?
  • Are there any recurring patterns or dynamics in your family that you find mirrored in your own stress responses?

School Experience:

  • Can you recall specific periods or events during your schooling that significantly increased your stress levels? How did you cope with them then, and how do you cope with similar situations now?
  • Reflect on the academic pressures or social dynamics in school that might have contributed to your stress patterns. Do you find yourself experiencing similar pressures in your current life?
  • How did teachers or peers influence your stress management strategies during your school years? Are there any habits or beliefs you developed during this time that you still carry with you?

Workplace Experience:

  • Reflect on your earliest job experiences. What were the main stressors you encountered, and how did you initially cope with them?
  • How have your stress triggers evolved as you progressed in your career? Are there any recurring themes or patterns in the stressors you face at work?
  • Consider the organizational culture and management styles of your past and current workplaces. How have these factors influenced your stress levels and coping mechanisms?
  • Have you observed any unhealthy patterns or behaviours in your professional life that contribute to your stress? How do you plan to address or change these patterns moving forward?

General Self-Reflection:

  • What similarities do you notice between the stress triggers and patterns you've identified across different areas of your life (family, school, work)?
  • Are there any specific events or experiences that stand out as particularly influential in shaping your current stress responses?
  • How do you typically react to stress? Are your reactions primarily emotional, physical, or behavioural? (We have reviewed the reaction types in our first blog of Stress Awareness Month series so you can check here)
  • Reflect on the effectiveness of your current stress management strategies. What adjustments or improvements could you make to better address your stress triggers and patterns?

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