Ideas for Life

What is Stress?

The first and most important part to understand about stress is the fact that it’s all perceptual. That’s right, stress is all defined and graded based upon a person perception of that particular stressor.Think about it for a moment, you’re at work and all hell breaks loose, it seems as if the company is about to fold, and this seems like a perfect time that everyone around you will be stressed, but you find the person who has sat next you for years seems quite cool about it. They are not panicking, they are not stressing, it seems almost as if they have either turned a blind eye to the fact that going on around them or it was all part of their bigger plan anyway.

The truth is, the stresses around us in our day-to-day existence are all categorised by us, we are the ones who define how stressful something is, or is supposed to be. Like most feelings, some people are simply more practised at producing stress than others, and there are other people who can seem to overcome stressful situations more easily, as they are more practised at being placid and calm. Perhaps you can see where I’m going with this already if you’ve listened to my podcast? Practice makes permanent, and those people who make a conscious effort to actively practice feeling more placid and calm are definitely able to produce those feelings when others around them are losing it.

What’s the Purpose of Stress?

Stress isn’t all bad, it does serve a purpose even if that purpose is slightly advanced for our  evolutionary place in time.

When the body senses that an event requires an additional burst of action, adrenaline and cortisone, the body floods our system to produce a rapid desired response to allow us to overcome this initial event. I’m sure you’ve heard of certain stories where people have reacted with superhuman strength and accuracy in times of extreme stress, such as a building collapse or fire for example. The body produces these amazing effect by pumping adrenaline, increasing our heart rate and delivering more oxygen to our vital organs including the brain and muscles, this enables us to react more quickly and more effectively. stress, at its core, is there as a protective device and we will have all witnessed a time that it has been useful for us, so don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Some stress does have a purpose and is very useful.

Where is Stress Not Useful?

Stress has a very bad name, people hate to feel stressed and in fact stress is responsible for many of life’s struggles. stress causes problems, when it is manifesting every single day. Again as I’ve mentioned above, it’s all about perception. If you perceive your job to be extremely stressful rather than challenging and exciting, then again you will begin to release these chemicals and hormones throughout your system. Remember, these are fantastic when you need to take rapid quick action, but they are not very helpful if they are circulating throughout your system day after day. Stress when it’s sporadic and reactive is perfect. Your body is working in harmony to keep you safe and well. Being stressed about work, stressed about your car, stressed about your health and stressed about your love ones is not only not helpful but it’s safe to say is extremely damaging to your entire system.

What Action Can We Take Against Stress

So what needs to happen? Firstly, it’s time for a reality check. A certain stress may occur and you need to ask yourself, will this thing be bothering me three weeks from now, two months from now? The idea here is to put this into perspective. When we have stresses, and we can really feel like they are weighing us down what we really need to do is assess the stress and realise that there probably is an endpoint.

If some reason you’re still extremely stressed about your job and there isn’t an endpoint because you need to stay there for some reason or another. Pinpoint what it is that stressing you and reframe it. Perhaps the person in the office who frustrates you or is nasty to you on a regular basis. A simple reframe would be to ask yourself what can you learn from this person? I know this sounds completely wacky, but in my other podcast questions are the answers it explains how asking yourself certain questions can really allow you to see a situation differently.

Take five! We know by now that prolonged stress can have a catastrophic effect on our emotional and physical well-being. By taking time to actively distress, and this could be using meditation, hypnosis, other relaxation techniques, going to the gym or getting mobile. Giving yourself the gift of time, and time out really is a productive and beneficial technique to allow you to purge the negative feelings of stress. This is further enhanced by embracing that time, really feeling thankful that you are able to give yourself the gift of Taking Five.

The takeaways from today are:

All stress is determined by you and how you perceive it and frame it.
Give yourself the gift of relaxation in some form.
If you can do something about stressful situation, then do it. If you’re not able to directly affect it, then don’t stress about it if it’s completely out of your control.