September 19, 2008
Understanding Positive and Negative Stress
Hello on a beautiful late summer afternoon, and thank you for reading the Self Help Tips Blog!
Today we will take a look at the full spectrum of what stress is, and how it can make or break you.
Stress can be good for you, or it can be bad for you. There are both positive and negative stressors in life. Good, positive stressors can be things like going on vacation, putting on a party, a close baseball game, meeting a deadline, getting married, a job interview or winning the lottery. All of the former can cause stress, but usually you get feelings of increased energy and excitement. Good stress can pump you up and help get your creative juices going. Some stress is healthy and necessary.
Everyone has a different threshold for stress. One person may respond quite differently to the same situation than another. For example, being cut off in traffic can create a stressful response in one person and quite a different response in another. This depends on the attitudes and viewpoints we have taken on in our lifetime. One person may react with road rage and shake their fist at the perpetrator; while another will rationalize that perhaps this person didn’t notice me or is in an extreme hurry and just slough it off. The latter is the healthier response.
Stress can either invigorate you or zap you of energy. Some symptoms of bad stress or "distress" are being tired all the time, always on edge with a short fuse, depression, change in sleeping patterns, frequent headaches, sore shoulders and neck, changes in weight patterns, relationship problems, diarrhea, dry mouth, sweaty palms and tight throat to name a few.
Your body will let you know that you are under too much stress. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Consistent distress (bad stress) can lead to physical illness such as high blood pressure, heart disease and anxiety. Stress is like a guitar string… if you have the right amount of tension you can play beautiful music, but too tight a string and it can snap! This is when people have nervous breakdowns. They overload with distress and have no way to cope with all of the bad stress in their life.
Remember, stressors are the situations that happen to you on a daily basis i.e.: being cut off in traffic. The degree of stress you experience is your own response to that stressor. You must adapt to the stressors of daily life. There are many demands in life that we have to deal with on a daily basis such as working, raising children, getting along with our spouses and the people around us, finances, illness, ageing, isolation, lack of friends, everyday events in the world, etc. It can be tough, but we must deal with it or it will deal with us. If you are over stressed you must get support from your doctor, friends and family or a psychologist. It is healthy to reach out! You may think that this is just simple common sense, but sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees and the obvious is not always visible, especially when someone is in the middle of distress or a crisis in ones life.
This is part one of this stress article. Next month watch for part two, where you will learn how stress affects the body and what you can do about it. This article was written in order to get you thinking about your everyday experiences and to assess how you react to everyday stressors.