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Which one would you choose? Big guy or little guy?

Which one would you choose? Big guy or little guy? image

Imagine you know that a very large man- a boxer or wrestler, say- is coming to your home at an exact time on a specific day, and he is going to hit you once, in the stomach, very hard. (You may be wondering why you would ever be in such a scenario; read on.)

Also imagine that some people know about it, and they are on standby to help patch you up and comfort you, once you’ve been hit. After the event, even more people will know about it, and you will get a lot of support.  Now for scenario number two: a little imp with a pin, keeps darting around and jabbing you  at random. It’s not enormously painful, it’s not an obvious injury, but it’s really annoying! Now imagine that this little guy pops up daily, sometimes just once, other times throughout the day at random. As you read this, which one feels more stressful? On first glance, it’s scenario one. But ultimately random small stressors- we call them hassles- are the ones that result in a sustained release of stress chemicals, and exhaust you over time. Whether they have been predicted or not, the big events- acute stressor like a serious illness, or a loss- are the ones where you get a lot of support, you feel you can legitimately expect and use that support, and  it’s typically a short-term stressor. Hassles, on the other hand, don’t seem to warrant that kind of support and you may not feel you have a ‘real’ reason to feel as stressed as you do after a day of hassles but no obviously extreme events. 

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