Saturday, September 17, 2011

Good Stress, Bad Stress

When we say we're stressed, it's usually a bad thing. Some stress can have a positive impact on our lives. Too much, and it can take a toll on our health, performance, and relationships.

When is stress good? When it acts as a catalyst to bring out our best performance. Think piano recital, high-stakes testing, or an important job interview. The stress of the upcoming event encourages us to prepare well, and helps us focus in the moment so we do our best.

Too much stress, and your body reacts poorly. Heart rate speeds up, hormones race through your body, you start to sweat . . . and you may fall apart.

A recent study in Scientific American Mind revealed that most of us would earn an F in stress preparedness. How do we better prepare for stress? Robert Epstein, PhD, suggests six steps:

1. Seek and kill--identify what's stressing you out and get rid of it. For example, my wireless printer at home wasn't working. So I did  what I had to do to get it fixed. Stressor gone.

2. Commit to the positive. What is your negative reaction to stress? Drugs, alcohol, overeating? Seek out a more positive reaction such as renewing friendships, participating in relaxing activities, or exercising.

3. Be your own personal secratary. Learn to make lists. I've started doing that at work, and as I have completed more, I feel less stress.

4. Immunize yourself. Use exercise and thought management to control yourself in stressful situations. I keep repeating to myself that I can handle the situation in question. After all, I died twice a couple of years ago, and came back from that.

5. Make a little plan. Set time aside each morning to plan your day. This lets you both accomplish more and lower your stress level.

6. Make a big plan. Planning your future gives you more control, and as you see the big picture, the problems of today will seem smaller when put into perspective.

Go reduce your stress, and teach these steps to your children!