“Man, I’m super stressed” was a friends response to my question, “so how’s it going”? He went on to state, “I’m under so much stress at work and it’s killing me”. Obviously, life offers us countless opportunities to experience stress and none of us are immune from its effects. I can’t speak for you, however, if I truly believed that stress was “killing me”, I would make some significant life changes. We all experience “good stress” and “bad stress”. “Bad stress” tends to occur when we are focusing on a past event or we are worrying about something we believe may happen in the future. Bad stress tends to show up when we are concerning ourselves with things out of our control.
Interestingly, studies have shown that stress is actually healthy for us. For example, my friend Crystal recently ran in her first long distance race. Toward the end of her 6.2 mile run, her body was clearly experiencing stress, her mind was experiencing stress and yet she felt great when she crossed the finish line. Anyone who has “burned the midnight oil” to launch a new business is familiar with what I refer to as “stimulating stress”. Lets look at some of the benefits of “positive stress”.
*Stress boosts brainpower. Stress can actually cause us to think more clearly. Stress can force us to leave “problem mode” and go into “solution mode”.
*Stress can temporarily increase our immunity. Stress produces extra Interleukins which are the chemicals regulating our immune system.
*Stress can make us more resilient. This is the premise behind the rigorous physical and mental training undertaken by Navy Seals.
*Stress can serve as a motivator for us to win or succeed. For example, it’s the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl, 10 seconds are left in the game, our team is down by 4 and it will take a touchdown to win the game. This was the reality of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Super Bowl XLIII. He completed the pass in the corner of the end zone, game over! Closer to home, how many of us have been under pressure to meet a significant deadline at work, knowing that a potential promotion hangs in the balance? It’s the “bad stress” we need to eliminate or learn to effectively manage. “Bad stress” can cause physical and emotional health challenges. “Good stress” can propel us to greatness!
4 Tips For Managing Stress…
*Minimize “bad stress”. We problem solve from the past, we create in the present. When we begin to experience stress that is related to a past event or circumstance, it’s important to shift our focus to our current reality and intentionally remind ourselves that we can only control what is going on in the present moment. Our Ego loves it when we beat ourselves up! In reference to the past, if we had known better, most of us would have done better. Show yourself some GRACE.
*Seek “positive stress”. It’s important to place ourselves in a position to experience “positive stress”. Working out, volunteering for a challenging project at work or starting our own business are great ways to bring “positive stress” into our lives. FYI… We must be mindful to step away from time to time in order to give our minds and bodies a chance to re-charge.
*Look for the lesson in every adversity. Regardless of how hard we try, how much we have planned or how much time and money we have invested, none of us are immune from set backs and failure. When we focus on the lesson and what we can take away from the experience, we significantly reduce our stress level. Conversely, when we “beat ourselves up” we are adding additional stress to an already trying situation. Looking for the lesson is a proactive, empowered way of being.
*Stay out of other peoples drama. “Not my monkeys, not my circus” is a Burton family mantra. Don’t get me wrong, I am a compassionate person and desire to lend a helping hand to anyone who is experiencing a temporary challenge. The operative word is “temporary”. When we routinely find ourselves in the middle of other peoples marital, financial or family challenges, it’s time to take a serious look at why we are bringing this added stress into our life? Being “addicted” to drama is an unconscious avoidance strategy. The key is to determine what we are avoiding, address it and refrain from inserting ourselves into other peoples drama in order to feel a sense of significance in our own lives.
The next time you find yourself feeling “stressed out”, do a quick check up from the neck up and identify what type of stress you are experiencing. For example, I am currently experiencing “good stress” as I approach the deadline to publish this article.
As Always, your comments and feedback are appreciated.
John Page Burton is the author of Wisdom Through Failure (2014) and Knowing Sh#t From Shinola (2015). To learn more visit http://www.johnpageburton.com