Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Stress Is Not Bad

In a stress management program this morning I made the statement, “Stress is not bad.” People looked at me like I was crazy.

Here’s the deal. There are three types of stress: Distress, Eustress, and Hypostress.

Distress is the bad stuff; the type of physical or emotional stress we don’t like. Eustress is the stress we feel with good experiences such as Christmas, buying a new car, or having a baby. Hypostress is the stress experienced by being bored.

Here’s the problem. We experience events in our lives—things that happen—and the events have no power other than the power we give them. That person at work who gets on your last nerve, they’re just doing what they do. Your perception is what creates stress for you.

The key, as researchers point out, is to have internal skills and external resources that allow you to handle the event in a positive way. Maybe the best thing to do is to ignore the person who annoys you; that’s an internal skill. Or, maybe you have the external resources to find job or go somewhere you won’t be bothered.

If you have internal skills or external resources the potential stressor is simply an annoyance; if not, it’s stress.

Here’s the wonderful key. You get to make the choice. In most cases, you decide what stress is and what it isn’t. Do you have the self-control to do that?

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