You're doing fine. Life couldn't be better. It's all good. And then, like a passionate political canvasser at your door, who appears?
And you're like
THERE ARE TWO TYPES
1. Eustress is positive stress. It motivates you and helps you focus. It feels like excitement. You're like
2. Distress is negative stress. It feels overwhelming and unmanageable. It can decrease your productivity, and often seems inescapable.
50% of North Americans say that stress negatively impacts their personal and professional lives.
WHAT IS STRESS?
"The stress response is a normal adaptive coping response that evolved over hundreds of millions of years to help our ancestors avoid sticks and get carrots," says Rick Hanson, PhD, a neuropsychologist and author.
In other words stress is useful for giving us short-term, heightened awareness when it really counts.
Hanson also says, "The natural biological, evolutionary blueprint is to have long periods of mellow recovery after bursts of stress."
The problem is, our bodies and minds don't have the ability to differentiate between modern day stresses and the short, high-risk stresses of our ancestors."Your body can't differentiate between a saber-toothed tiger attack and a bad job review," says Henry Emmons of Penny George Institute for Health and Healing.
We're busy dodging saber-toothed tigers 10 hours a day, without the necessary rest.
FIRST OF ALL,
THERE IS HOPE.
Thankfully, there are several useful (and science-backed) ways to manage and eliminate negative stress. Bookmark this page. Send it to the people you care about. Let's band together and sing it from the mountain tops: PEACE OUT, STREEEESSSSS.
The most important step in handling negative stress is recognizing it.
The following are some key signs:
Irritable behavior and frustration
Reduced exercise or activity
Increased or decreased food intake
Difficulty focusing or making decisions
Trouble sleeping / restlessness
Moody and emotional outbursts
Muscle tension or pain
Stomach / abdominal pain
Sweating / cold spells
Jot down a few sentences in a journal at the end of each day, and rate your stress level out of 10. At the end of each month, look back over your journal. You will soon begin to pick out patterns. Maybe your stress levels are high on days when you sleep in, don't talk to friends, or eat certain foods.
Recognizing these things can help you anticipate possible stresses and work toward eliminating them.
GET IT OUT.
No, I'm not talking about constipation. Though, if you're constipated, maybe that's why you're stressed.
Externalizing your stress pushes negative energy outward, and prevents it from bottling up. Find a person to talk to. Do art. Write it out. Go for a walk. Dance it out like this cool cat...
What and who do you care about? These should take priority.
If your schedule is bursting, consider commitments that you can step away from. Do it. Step away.
If there are people in your life that stress you out, consider why. If they are a toxic presence in your life, step away. There are plenty of others who are more deserving of your time.
If you are overwhelmed by your space, minimize your belongings. Holding on to things you don't need can cause useless stress.
They're learning experiences.
Dwelling on past failures can cause debilitating stress. Likewise, the fear of future failure can do the same thing. Ask yourself, why am I afraid of failure?
Remind yourself that failure is good and necessary for
growth. Everyone has failed. Everyone will fail. Now, read back through the last three sentences and replace every fail with learn...
Remind yourself that learning is good and necessary for growth. Everyone has learned. Everyone will learn.
Seeing failure for what it really is-learning-is a great way of stripping away the fear. Fail on, my friends. Fail on.
JUST FOR YOU.
Chew gum. Hang with pals. Hang with pets. Go for a walk. Smell lavender. Meditate. Exercise. Drink tea. Sleep. Make art. Read. Get a massage. Breathe.
I know, I know. This sounds a pitiful attempt to restate the side of a Lululemon bag. But it's true! All of the above activities have been proven to relieve stress.
Perhaps these tips won't work for you. Perhaps you are so overwhelmed, you can't handle this yourself. This is quite normal, as stress can easily make us lose our ability to rationalize and make decisions. If this is the case, ask for help. Someone who you trust that is not stressed out will be able to assess your current circumstances and guide you.
Share this with someone you care about.