Ok, people, we’ve all been there – the moment when stress seems to ooze into every facet of our lives, leaving us shouting, “I am all stressed out.” It’s a phrase that has become commonplace in today’s fast-paced world, often used to express the overwhelming pressures we face. I challenge you all to examine whether this declaration is genuine or a subtle excuse to escape responsibilities.

I will give it to you, stress is a natural part of life, that is triggered by various factors such as work or school demands, personal relationships, and responsibilities, as well as societal expectations for adults and kids alike. However, the phrase “I am all stressed out” has become so commonplace that it risks losing its true meaning. In some instances, it can serve as a convenient shield, covering the real reasons behind one’s reluctance to engage in certain activities. Come on, admit it, we have all used this phrase, and our kids have too!

When “I am all stressed out” becomes a regular response, it may be a sign of a deeper issue. We all know that stress is a valid and often challenging emotion. However, when consistently using it as a catch-all phrase in an attempt to avoid facing uncomfortable situations or responsibilities- we have a problem! It’s crucial to recognize when stress is genuine and when it becomes a convenient excuse. Sometimes it is hard to tell, and the judgment relies on knowing the person who is saying it. I have absolutely discounted this phrase’s seriousness when it comes from a person who is an exaggerator in general.

But…, stress, when genuine, can have severe implications on our mental and physical well-being. It’s a signal from our bodies that something needs attention. The phrase, “I am all stressed out,” when said by a person who typically is not frazzled by life, needs to be taken more seriously. We all need to keep in mind that misusing the phrase may trivialize the experiences of those genuinely grappling with stressors. It’s essential to differentiate between the need for support and a desire to evade certain tasks aware of your use of this phrase.

So now what…instead of defaulting to “I am all stressed out,” consider articulating the specific challenges you are dealing with. Let’s take ownership of our feelings and express them clearly. Taking ownership of your true experience will allow for a better understanding of what is going on for you and can better help your support system help you. This strategy will also help break the cycle of using stress as a shield to avoid responsibilities. When you hear the phrase, ask yourself and your kids: Are you really stressed out, or do you not want to …?” Try to gain an understanding of what is really going on. Ask questions with genuine curiosity rather than judgment.

While stress is an inevitable part of the human experience, the phrase “I am all stressed out” should not serve as a blanket excuse! By understanding the nuances of stress, taking ownership of our feelings, and seeking support when needed, we can break free from the cycle of using stress as a way to escape responsibilities.


Dr. Marnee