STRESS IS EVERYWHERE! It’s waiting for you when you wake up in the morning and it’s there when you go to bed at night. It’s at home, at the office, in your car…heck, you can’t escape it…ever. But it’s how you define it or how you let it define you that makes the difference.
I stress, eustress, we all distress.
Why can’t everything be easy? Why does our heartbeat skyrocket, our voice quiver and the blood rush to our face when things happen differently than we would like? Why do we care when the person driving in front of us is going under the speed limit or blows by us too fast? Why do we get upset when the grocery checkout line is backed up or the people in our office aren’t getting things done when we expect them to? It’s because things aren’t going the way we expect them to go. That’s all it is.
When that person speeds past me on the road and gives me the “you’re number 1” sign, I imagine they are upset because they just left the long line at the grocery store and their popsicles are melting. That makes me smile. The alternative is to give chase… with my hair on fire… and run them off the road. I can choose how to define the way I let stress impact me so in this case, I go with the popsicle smile. Many of us blow a fuse when things happen that we can’t control… even if it’s not really that important. That’s called distress.
Distress comes from many sources
Excessive work demands, internal conflicts, inadequate authority or training to carry out your tasks, or unproductive meetings or conversations cause stress. Even your work space can cause you stress. Being a perfectionist, over scheduling, procrastination or inability to be assertive are also stressors that you might be creating within yourself
Good Kind of Stress
Eustress is the positive stress that we experience in our lives. It comes from the things that make us happy, even if they require extra work and stamina. These are the things that give us purpose, the good things…like starting a new job or retiring, taking a vacation or buying a new home, accepting praise for outstanding performance or learning a new task… these are all positive stressors that keep us striving for goals, overcoming challenges and staying excited about life.
Wouldn’t it be nice if all your stress was good?
The way you mentally handle stress dictates how your body handles stress as well. If you allow yourself to react negatively, your body will respond and in most cases, that’s just not good. Knots in your shoulders, lower back pain, a stiff neck or headaches are only some of the milder responses to stress and even these things can add additional stress. Pain is stressful and so are the visits to the doctor that you might need to get rid of the pain or the meds you take to eliminate symptoms. It’s a vicious circle.
Let’s remind ourselves of some stress relieving techniques
- Take a deep breath…several deep breaths. I’m talking about full, deep, cleansing breaths, in through your nose, out through your mouth breaths that take a full 20-30 seconds to complete. During your breathing, relax fully in your chair, let your shoulders slump, your face relax and close your eyes. Listen to yourself breath.
- When you feel stress building, take a walk. Prevention Magazine likens a 20 minute walk to taking a tranquilizer. I’m pretty sure that walk will have fewer side effects and if you walk every day, maybe you can ditch those tranquilizers all together.
- Experts agree that nature is a great way to distress your brain. If you can’t get to the woods, at least look out a window. This National Geographic article has a great explanation.
- Do something that makes someone else less stressed. Being nice to others, experiencing their gratitude, makes us happy and lifts our spirits. If they don’t respond to your kindness, chalk it up to shock and keep doing nice things.
- Give yourself a little daydream. It’s ok to have a “non-doing” moment or two and take a mini vacation. It helps you relax and manage conflict. Heck, it might take you places that you’ll never get to otherwise. Look it up on WebMD. It’s real.
- If it helps, turn your stressor into something funny. Make yourself smile or laugh about it. People will wonder what you’re up to but that’s ok. This is about you.
- Disconnect – Seriously… put down all of the connections for a little while. It may feel bad but it won’t kill you. Stress might.
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