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