Remember that I'm using the Wheel of Wellness to help visualize health in life:
Today I'm continuing my discussion on the subtask of Stress Management. You can see "part 1" of this subtask here.
I don't think we can have a real discussion on stress management without discussing what "stress" actually means. What IS stress, then? Basically, it's your body's physical and psychological response to anything that you perceive as overwhelming, alarming, or threatening. It's a biological process, with a wide-ranging set of events in the body.
Here's the thing: Not All Stress Is Bad! Sometimes I believe we are trained to think that any and all stress is a bad thing, and we start to panic when we feel stress coming on in our lives. But not all stress is bad, and, in fact, a small amount of stress is actually good for us! Even good stress (i.e. a new job, marriage, or a baby) can become unhealthy and taxing on the body if not properly dealt with.
How is stress good? Here are a few things that stress actually provides for us:
- initiates invention & problem-solving capabilities and moves us towards creativity
- It can give us that final push towards making changes or adapting to something
- It can keep us healthy and happy
- It pushes us out of our "love affair" with comfort (we can't live within this comfort zone all the time, because we won't change or grow. We become stagnant. Good stress actually helps us be "ok" with getting outside our comfort zone).
Watch how you react the next time you start feeling a slight amount of stress. Do you panic and freak yourself out? Remember, what we think affects our feelings and our behaviors. The more you say "I'm stressed, I'm so stressed out, I'm overwhelmed", the more you feel overwhelmed and out of control". If you can acknowledge that you are feeling a slight amount of stress and you are choosing to engage with it in a healthy manner, it becomes manageable, and won't take over your life. Does that make sense?
Here's your challenge: Watch how you talk to yourself when you start feeling stressed? Do you ramp your stress up, or do you acknowledge it for what it is without freaking out?
Now it's your turn:
Do you ramp up your stress level more then it needs to be? How can you use stress for your advantage without letting it overwhelm you?