The Stress Cycle
The Stress Cycle has three parts:
A Stress-Provoking Event
First of all, a stress-provoking event occurs.
Such events can include crises, losses, changes (either positive or negative),
or simply the hassles of everyday life and job-hunting.
After a stress-provoking event occurs, your self-talk kicks in.
You assess the event mentally and decide whether it poses a threat to you, and whether you have sufficient resources to cope with the demands of the situation. This is the point at which you decide whether the situation is stressful for you. Your decision will either trigger the stress response, or eliminate the need for it.
This doesn't mean that your stress is "all in your head" or imaginary. It means that a situation isn't stressful until you think it is. Your self-talk is what determines how much stress you experience in a given situation.
The Stress Response
Finally, the stress response occurs, and your physical and mental function, emotions, and behaviors change as a result.
For example, your breathing may become faster, your palms may sweat, and you may feel agitated or panicky.
Since this is a cycle, it follows a predictable course. That means you can short-circuit the stress response by reinterpreting the situation. For example, as the event unfolds, you may become aware of fresh aspects to the situation, or may act in a way that changes your evaluation of the threat and your ability to cope. Based on your new perspective, you may change your approach, or decide that the situation is not stressful after all.