The fine line

As we previously saw in Part 1 of the article, it was identified that there are four ways that stress is essentially good for you, this article goes on to expand on exactly what good stress is. 

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There’s a fine line between performance-enhancing pressure and debilitating anxiety, and it’s different for each person.

While it’s generally accepted that stress is part of our modern life, you might wonder how to recognise and actually deal with stress, or even, to recognize and enjoy good stress more often. So, what is good stress?

Dealing with bad stress

Andrea – aged 37 – seems to have the world at her feet. Or so it looks from the outside.

She has a well-paid job, a prominent position and is happily married with no kids. She has plenty of disposable income and even an investment property.

But the reality is, Andrea works long hours – too long – and she has little time for herself.

She’s a deep thinker and often gets bogged down in a big list of ‘should’s’ – and berates herself when she doesn’t tick off everything in her to-do list. She’s often so anxious that she sleeps poorly.

What’s her solution?

Andrea could experiment to find something that suits her personality, preferences and schedule, such as:

– Physical options: exercise, sport, warm baths, mini breaks, yoga, hobbies, games, deep breathing, tai chi, massage, talking, preparation and meeting

– Mental (cognitive) options: meditation, muscle relaxation, psychotherapy, concentration, art, music, creativity, reading, mind mapping, planning, positive self-talk or thought-challenging.

Four Ways Stress is Good For You – Part 2_2Maximising good stress

Jillian – aged 40 – is a happily married mother with three children under 5. Her friends perceive her as happy and balanced, but wonder how she actually manages to stay on top of everything.

Jillian loves the thrill of completing tasks – she is definitely an achiever like Andrea, but she lowers her expectations about what she wants to achieve each day – then happily ticks things off her small but meaningful to-do list.

She enjoys meeting life’s daily challenges, and stretching herself to get a few key tasks finished.

Jillian also makes time for herself to pursue adventure sports.

She loves to surf, rock climb and run long distances. They give her an outlet for any negative stress but also, allow her to strive and challenge herself in a way that’s totally different from her day-to-day life. She thrives on these challenges.

There are many ways to build more positive stress – positive heightened emotions – into your day.

Consider these

– Physical options: adventure sports, assertive discussions, debating, HIIT, bungee jumping, confrontation (positive-focused).

– Mental (cognitive) options: engaging in a heart-warming activity (e.g. sentimental movie), experiencing great joy, immersing yourself in pure love, practicing a ritual around deep gratitude, engaging in a heart-to-heart, having a coaching session.

As you can see, stress is all about your response to the situations you are exposed to.

It presents a range of tools for you to explore to diminish negative stress or boost positive stress. Now, what is one thing you could experiment with this coming week, to either reduce negative stress or increase positive stress?

Connect with Expert Melanie White

References 

1. 2015 – Wellness Coaching Australia. Understanding Stress for You and Your Clients – Student Manual (manual not publicly available, but links to this course)

2. Mason, J. W. (1968) A review of psychoendocrine research on the sympathetic-adrenal medullary system. Psychosomatic Medicine, 30 (Suppl. 5), 631–653.

3. Brecht, G. (1996) Sorting out stress. Prentice Hall.

4. Fredrickson, B. (2009). Positivity. Crown Publishing.

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