As more and more studies come out about how stress is killing us (a stressful topic to read about, ironically), I would like to give you a 6-minute reminder that the goal is not to eradicate ALL stress.
If you haven’t heard by now, there are 2 Categories of Stress: Eustress and Distress.
Eustress is the positive Stress, like when you have a presentation or performance, when we fall in love, when we move, when we get a new job or a promotion. Think of it as a stressor with the underlying tone of motivation.
Distress is the negative stress. It could be outside obstacles like losing someone, getting in an accident, being in a life-threatening situation… or, it can be a self-chosen stress that trickles over from something that may have started as Eustress, and then if we hit our limit for what we can manage with a Eustressor, we may go into Distress around it.
Let’s talk about this “self-chosen” distress (worry, living in “what if” land, being in reaction to others, etc.). So when we talk about “managing stress” and “de-stressing”, these are the situations where the higher goal is to find our own personal homeostasis and recalibrate to relaxation after we go through any stressful situation.
When we can flip our conversation about life stressors from a negative mindset to a positive mindset, it can literally affect how our body chemically digests and processes the situation.
Yulia Eustress and Davey Distress both just got a promotion at work. They are both excited, nervous, and ready for the new adventure and bigger responsibility. After about a month, Yulia Eustress is rockin’ it. She acknowledges the new challenges are uncomfortable, and she continues to learn and grow, being sure to take personal time to re-boot and re-charge.
Davey, however, is slowly spinning in a negative cycle. He gets frustrated when he doesn’t know how to do something. He fears losing his position any day. He is getting angry and irritable on the commute to work, and he can’t seem to release his mind from this anxiety, even when he is not working!
I think all of us can relate to a situation we’ve been in where we have processed it like Yulia Eustress, and I know I can definitely relate to processing life like Davey Distress. If this cycle continues for Davey, he will inevitably begin to suffer physical symptoms such as low immunity, indigestion, depression, anxiety attacks, high blood pressure, and disease. In fact, Distress is the basic cause of 60% of all human illness and disease (1).
So, let’s end on a Eustressful note, shall we?
Here are 5 Steps to Support you in Transforming Distress to Eustress, and learning to Re-boot after any Stressful situation:
- Make a list of everything you would describe as a Distressor in your life right now.
- Circle all the Stressors above that are “self-chosen”: For example, say your commute to work is a distressor… and then you look over and the person in the car next to you, who is in the same traffic as you… is jamming out to their favorite tunes and having a blast in the car… The traffic is a neutral factor in this case, and how we react can either be a stressor… or not.
- Now make a list of the items you circled in #2, and write out for each one how you can shift your conversation from it being a Distressor, to a Eustressor. Have a stressful relationship at work? How can you look at it as an opportunity to see things from the other persons point of view? Stressed out about finances? What if you started a practice around gratitude? Or created a vision board?
- Make a list of everything that helps you relax, reset, re-boot, all the re’s…
- Circle 2-3 items from the list above that you would like to try this week.
Lastly, here is an interesting list from Brock University with best practices to eradicate negative stress.
- Stop feeling guilty. (I like to word it in the positive: Be unapologetically you.)
- Be decisive.
- Avoid being a perfectionist. (Be gentle with yourself and know that doing your best is all that matters)
- Set priorities for yourself.
- Stop procrastinating. (Be in action.)
- Praise yourself.
- Live an optimal lifestyle. (Always be willing to experiment with new habits and behaviors to see what works for you)
Please leave a comment and share your de-stress practices! And, click here for a FREE Stress Reduction checklist.