How Expectations Cause Stress and How To Manage It

It can be very difficult to manage stress when we are under the pressure of expectations. 

We may stress out about the pressure that others put on us, but what I believe really makes us stressed out, leading us to even become sick, are the expectations that we put upon ourselves.

As I have written before, it is crucial to our health to manage stress. Please read the post “How Stress Can Make You Sick” where I explain this subject in detail.

We need to be at peace with ourselves so that we can make the right decisions because:

  • When we don’t make the right decisions, we feel like we lost control of our lives.
  • When we lose control of our lives, we lose confidence in ourselves.
  • When we lose confidence in ourselves, we get angry at ourselves and hide.
  • We become one step away from becoming depressed.

When we make decisions while at peace with ourselves:

  • We feel in control of our lives.
  • When we feel in control of our lives, we gain confidence.
  • When we gain confidence in ourselves, nothing is unachievable!
  • When we feel that we can accomplish everything, we lower the expectations that others – and ourselves – put on us!
  • We feel free, happy, and accepted, and we make good decisions!

Let me give you a couple of examples:

Ex. 1:  A mother wants to be her best for her child. She is doing everything that she can to raise her child the best way possible. She has the pressure of society on her shoulders, thinking that everyone is watching her every move. She starts putting pressure on herself to reach everyone’s expectations, even though she knows that she is doing her best already. All of those expectations start making her feel like she doesn’t have control of her life. She feels less of herself and believes to be a bad mom. When she believes that she is a bad mom, she either becomes a bad mom or becomes depressed. Both results go against her ultimate goal: to be her best for her child.

Ex. 2:  A man breaks his arm and can’t do yard work for 6 months. Every day, he looks out the window and the growing grass reminds him of everything that he won’t be able to accomplish in 180 days. His friends want to help him by bringing him food since he can’t do much, and he declines help, thinking that he will be judged when people see his front yard lawn. Besides putting pressure on himself daily, he also puts pressure on himself thinking of what others would think. He stresses out. He gets mad at himself. He struggles – unnecessarily – because of the unreal expectation that he created in his mind.  He feels less of himself. Six months later, he is depressed and doesn’t have the energy or the desire to cut his grass. This result goes against his ultimate goal: to do yard work.

Do you see how we can create expectations in your minds? And most of the times, they are unreal expectations because most of the times we are giving our best! We have to be aware of this so that we don’t allow our best to add pressure to our lives, making us sabotage ourselves, becoming our worst.

Here is a list of 7 ways to manage the stress that comes with expectations (real expectations or not).

How to manage the stress that comes with expectations:

  1. Accept your reality:  Stop and think: “are you giving your best with what you have?” If so, accept where you are in life now and be ok with it.
  2. Write things down: Many times people get stressed out not because of what’s expected of them, but because they may not remember what is expected of them. As soon as you write it down, you will feel your stress level go down.
  3. Welcome help into your life: If the people around you are your friends, they will not judge you; they will understand you. That feeling of shame that you put on yourself for whatever reason is just that: a feeling! And it is a feeling that YOU feel, not others. Always ask for help and accept help when you need it.
  4. Make sure that you are always walking towards your ultimate goals: Even when life gives you lemons, make sure that you are always walking towards your goals. You don’t want to feel as if you lost control of your life and start going downhill from there.
  5. Stand up for yourself: There will be times when people will add pressure to your life by expecting unrealistic things from you. When that happens make sure to stand up for yourself. It’s ok to make comments such as: “Thank you for your opinion. I wish I could take my kids to the park this weekend, but this weekend is the only time I have in the month to run errands. You are welcome to take my kids to the park though.”
  6. Breathe out so that you don’t explode! You are not a balloon (and even balloons burst)! You have to take time to breathe because if you only take in, take in, take in, you will end up with chronic stress, feeling out of control of your life. Only when we stop is when we recharge our energy and are able to be more productive, being able to achieve more goals and feeling in control of your life again.
  7. Use your right brain: Your right brain is your creative side, your emotions, the part of you that wants to have fun. By doing that, you are forcing your left brain to take a much needed break from all of the pressure. Your left brain is your judgemental side, “your mom and dad” when it comes to getting your chores done. So give it a break and go outside, dance, listen to music, exercise. Do things that make you happy and doesn’t require focus or perfection.

If you’d like to know your level of stress, don’t forget to print out my “Current Life Status Circle” by pressing HERE.

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I hope that I was able to help you feel a little lighter from some of the expectations in your life.

And remember: If something doesn’t make you happy, do something about it! If you don’t like your job, start looking for a new one; if you don’t like your spouse’s food, cook your own food; if you don’t like traffic, take the subway! Complaining doesn’t help your health; It only lits your stress’s fire! You don’t want that, do you? 🙂

Sending good, positive vibes to everyone,

Gabi Brandao.
Disease Prevention Advocate, Blogger, Author, Speaker, Certified Holistic Health and Wellness Coach by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Board Certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and Licensed Medical Massage Practitioner by the Virginia Board of Nursing

 

 

47 thoughts on “How Expectations Cause Stress and How To Manage It

  1. Laura says:

    Thank you for sharing this! Sometimes I expect waaay to much from myself and think that I can (have to) do everything on my own. But you’re right, we need to learn to ask for and accept help when necessary.

    • admin says:

      You are very welcome! I’m glad that you have realized what you need to do next to better your overall health and wellbeing! 🙂

  2. Cristina Coroiu says:

    Great article. I have to work on my stress caused by expectations as well. I’m trying to make to-do lists every day so it will make me feel better when I see that I did most of my stuff. I also learned to celebrate all the little accomplishments.

    • admin says:

      Thank you! Yes, To-do lists are so helpful! And you are right! Celebrating accomplishments is very important! Even the smallest accomplishments need to be celebrated!

    • admin says:

      Being hopeful vs having high expectations are two different things and I hope that you stay hopeful throughout your journey. Hope is a big motivator. It’s good to be hopeful with realistic expectations!

  3. Kelli Quintos says:

    YES! Love this post and your examples. Thank you for letting me know I’m not the only one with this issue of fluffing up my own expectations so much that they are doomed to disappoint.

  4. Tammy says:

    I expect so much from people and I really need to stop doing that as much. Its hard for me to be a chairman of a group because of my expectations. Thanks for your words of encouragement.

    • admin says:

      You are very welcome, Tammy. Thank you for your comment, and good luck on your journey!

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  6. John Darrel says:

    Somedays I read this quote: “If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.”
    That changed my life. Thanks for your article. Very useful.

    • admin says:

      You are very welcome! I always say that we should have high hopes but realistic expectations. 🙂

  7. Hollie says:

    Thank you for this. I think often times, we put the most pressure on ourselves. I know I am definitely guilty of it, especially in the social media world.

    • admin says:

      Don’t let social media get to you. Be confident in yourself and know that you are already enough! Much love being sent your way.♡

  8. Jessica Taylor says:

    I can’t agree with this more! I set my expectations way too high which is also why I have severe anixety!

    • admin says:

      Set realistic expectations and take some deep breaths. Everything will be ok, one way or another! Thank you for reading my post.♡

  9. Ariana says:

    Thank you for this post! This is something I can utilize in my life ! I try my best not to have expectations but It can be difficult sometimes.

  10. Viv says:

    I’m not very good at asking for help, but I do understand we can’t do it all. Thanks for sharing, perhaps it’s time I realise I need to accept more help than I currently do!

  11. Carol says:

    Enjoyed this post a lot! I agree – a huge chunk of the stress we experience does come from our own expectations that we should learn to manage. Love tje tips you listed too!

  12. Lifewithzg says:

    I love the way you write! Your post is a good read. Indeed acceptance is always the first step. We got this hun!

  13. LavandaMichelle says:

    What a lovely post! Stress has always been something that I struggle with, I used to stress over everything. It got so bad, my hands would shake 24/7. Luckily I found peace in the fact that everything changes and that life. I had everything planned out and had these unrealistically high expectations and it led to a downfall. This was a wonderful post, thanks for sharing! 🙂

  14. Vivian K says:

    This is so true and it is so hard as human to not create unrealistic expectations – however i have been working on this myself so I stopped stressing out so much

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