That’s right. Everyone. Throughout the day we have a constant flow of stress going through us. And we need to, to keep our body going through normal functions, and to keep us changing physically and mentally. This is the second installment in the series building off of that first blog post we sent out a month ago now. I would like to take the opportunity today to elaborate a little bit about stress and the very necessary and helpful role it plays in our life and some ways that we can manage it when it gets to be out of control.
So firstly, understand that stress gets a bad name because of the connotation that comes with it, but this is simply incorrect in most cases. Now, there is a negative side to stress obviously, but I believe this to be what we spend too much time focusing on and it blurs the lines between what we should avoid and what we should embrace.
There are two types of stress, Eustress(positive) and Distress(negative).
Now, the Eustress that we have in our lives comes from things that are intrinsic motivators, things that push us to improve and push us to advance in our life- a new child, a new job, training for an event, etc. This stress is good, we love it. Our mind and body react to this in positive ways according to the S.A.I.D. principle (Specific Adaptations to the Imposed Demands). This get us in better shape, better cognitive ability, improves relationships, and propels our careers.
On the other side of the spectrum is Distress. Distress is what we would classically, but incorrectly categorize as stress. It comes from things such as disease, depression, traumatic injury, and physical threats. Essentially what we are talking about is the difference in thriving and surviving.
While Eustress and Distress play two very different roles in their outcomes, our mind and body still adapt in very similar ways to their imposed demands, so where you are in life is 100% due to decisions that you have made to mitigate those levels and how you let outside circumstances effect you. You pattern and program your neural pathways through decisions every day, consciously or not.
The part where many people get confused or frustrated is understanding that no matter the type of stress we are talking about, you truly only have a specific capacity to handle a certain volume at a single time. We can think of an 8oz cup, if you have it filled 6oz already with unpaid bills, poor time management, and a job you hate, you may think a great way to combat this would be to start a new diet, jump into a new training program, move cities, and join a recreational league, not realizing that will come with another 4oz of stress and our cup will overflow, leading immediately to burn out.
So, what is the moral of the story?
In general, those with a high level of Eustress have figured out a way to live a lifestyle that Distress is difficult to enter. If this is you, congratulations, most people will wish they could find themselves in that situation.
For most people, the best method to make positive change in your life is going to be via purposeful planning with specific intent. Most people have a fair amount of distress going on at any particular time in their life, and before attempting to make positive change in the introduction of further Eustress, will need to mitigate the amount of Distress to lower the level of their glass and make room for some new and exciting challenges and routines.
Some ways we can do this:
-Create a positive work life balance through scheduling
-Sleep 8hrs a night and put the phone away 30min before (see these are all intermingled)
-Slowly and steadily improve your diet
-Decrease the amount of mindless media we take in:
(This one is actually incredible to me, on your iPhone you can see a weekly breakdown of how much time you spend on your phone a day, for me sometimes it has been a crazy 7+ hours a day and honestly, probably 5 of that was me straight up wasting time, now imagine on top of that mindlessly watching 1-2hrs of Netflix a night as well…. 7 hours of wasted time a day. This is a big one, get on top of it and you’ll be surprised how much better you feel.)
-Plan ahead; everything from meals, to work, to recreation
-Start moving; this doesn’t have to be a programmed workout routine, but just get out of the house and move your body
-Get more sunlight; if this isn’t feasible, take 5000iu’s of vitamin D daily, you will be surprised how much your mood improves
-Keep up correspondence with friends and develop meaningful relationships
-Take time every day for some personal reflection; meditation and yoga are great ways to engage in this
Overall, understand that stress is not bad. It is the way we manage it. Now go out and make a positive change!