Stress wreaks its evil havoc in so many ways: It has been linked to depression, weight gain, sleep loss, and even shortened lifespan. But did you know that stress is actually good for you in many ways? The determining factor is who’s in charge – you or the stressful event? Understanding this idea can be one of the most powerful ways to change your life for the better, basically reversing all of the above listed detriments and a whole lot more.
We’ve heard it said before: “It’s not the stress itself, it’s the way you and your body reacts to it that matters.” There is a lot to this, it clearly deserves a closer look. Think of another very stressful activity that greatly affects your health – exercise. The benefits of exercise come from the body’s over-repairing or overcompensating for the damage done by what it perceives as an ordeal. In other words, stress. But exercise benefits just about every facet of your physical/psychological health. It makes you a stronger person in almost every way. So if we have here an example of stress being very good for you, why should we try to eliminate it in other areas of our lifes? The answer is we should not, we should just seek to control the environment, the parameters of the arena it is expressed in. Just like we do with our workouts.
Some people may say “if you can do that then it’s not a stressful event”. I say this is begging the question in a way, but it reflects a lack of understanding of stress itself. When you are in charge of the event – when you have recourse, or the power to act, you relish it as a challenge instead of a serious attack. There are easy ways you can encage this confrontation in a positive environment for you as you’ll see below. Learning the art is very important to happiness and success.
Let’s use the exercise example to illustrate. Fitness experts are always telling us to observe proper form in our routines, to observe calculated limits of weight to use, proper speeds and time frames for running, etc. We do it all under strictly controlled parameters. Only when we get arrogant or lazy and violate proper methods do we experience injury. These principles can be applied to any stressful scenario. Here are a few tips for doing so:
1) Keep your exertion in the gym. Don’t perform stressful physical activity in between workouts. In life the rule is the same – keep your work at work, don’t brood about what happened at the office on your family/down time. Don’t persistently beat yourself up over some minor event that happened at work. Flip the off switch. That means change the subject (substitution principal) distract your mind with some pleasurable activity when you get home.
2) Don’t “lift” more than you’re capable. Know when you’ve reached your limits and move on to something else. Compromise, clear the air, again -distract your mind – occupy it with another project.
3) Keep things in perspective. Is that minor insult really a cause for outright war? If you lost a small sale will it really sink your career? Then why beat yourself up over it? You can still go home kiss the wife, have a tasty meal, and your job will be fine till tomorrow. It’s not the end of the world. Now if you got into a car accident, was blinded and paralyzed that might be a bit worse though, wouldn’t it?
4) Get organized.. I could write volumes on this one, the gist is this: The more you have preestablished routines or “filing methods” for dealing with daily transactions and contingencies, the faster and easier you can handle them. And the less of the negative pressure you put on yourself. Organization means far more than neatness. It means having the commonly used items closest at hand. Put those rarely used envelopes or stack of forms farther downstream, have your desk and your life set up, lean and mean and ready to roll! In other words get the miscellaneous stuff out of the way!
Contrary to what we hear on in an unending barrage, stress is not your enemy. With a little preparation and practice you can turn those trying events to your advantage and possibly change your whole outlook in life – turn a negative into a positive – that results in the biggest swing!