Jan 17, 2021
When was the last time you felt stressed?
Stress is not only an emotion, but a physiological response our body experiences when it senses danger. It stirs us into protective action to run, fight, or freeze.
It probably wasn’t that long ago that you experienced it – so congratulations! Stress is actually good for you:
- It motivates us toward a purpose (ie: writing a Master’s Thesis),
- It’s healthy (ie:purpose reduces depression ),
- It can be challenge-based (ie: training to running a 5k)
- It’s like an internal alarm system that alerts us to threats (ie: removing rugs, installing grab bars to prevent our aging Loved One from falling.)
Let me repeat that last one; It ALERTS us to threats. Stress itself is not a threat.
But it can become one when we view it that way. Studies have shown that when we view our stressors as challenges, rather than as threats, the results are beneficial. Productivity is increased and our long-term health improves.
Shawn Achor, in the book, Big Potential, points out that stress originally comes from meaning. He says, “Even at its worst, stress is far better than disengagement or apathy.”
Just imagine replacing stress with apathy in these scenarios:
- The baby is learning to walk and teetering close to the stairs.
- Your Dad with advanced Parkinson’s disease (and no drivers’ license) insists on driving to his dentist appointment.
- You find out at the end of the semester that your daughter is failing her online classes.
Wouldn’t you rather respond to those scenarios with stress than apathy? Achor says, ” The negative effects of stress are much higher when we become separated from meaning.”
You feel a lot less stress when your friends’ daughter is failing her online classes then when your daughter is. Because it holds more meaning for you.
So look at the stress in your life. What is the meaning behind it? If it is fear-based, how can you alter it to be challenge-based?
In the driving Dad scenario, Fear-based would say, “He’s going to yell at me if I try to stop him.” Challenge- based says, “He’s not going to like this, but I can handle it.” I can feel the reduced stress and the safer roads already.
This is a simple solution. I recognize there are many scenarios that warrant high levels of stress. Still, Remember the meaning behind the stress. The meaning is, you value your life. If you are dealing with chronic stress, please seek help. Chronic stress is not healthy or beneficial.
We make meaning without really trying. The key is to be aware of the meaning you’re making, decide if it’s really serving you, and let it go if it isn’t. Then, you can decide ahead of time what you want things to mean. This is where the real power – and stress-relief comes from.
P.S. My schedule always has a few slots saved for FREE Comeback calls each week. Also, If you are stuck in stress or any other undesirable emotion, let’s get together on a free call so you can begin to feel better. Schedule here https://meredithgcoaching.as.me/