Stress. What a downer. We live with it constantly in today’s culture.
Half the time we may not realize just how much stress we face day-to-day until we leave for vacation or take a day off with no plans other than to sit and read a book.
So, what is stress? You probably have a pretty good idea. But, did you know there are three kinds of stress?
The first stress we’ll discuss is eustress. Eustress is a positive stress. It comes when a person finds something stimulating or inspiring. Examples would be learning your crush’s affection is returned or accomplishing a difficult task.
The second type of stress is neustress. Neustress is similar to what it sounds like — sensory stimuli that have no consequential effect, either good or bad. It’s neutral.
The third is distress. We are all familiar with this one. Distress is often bad and can either be acute or chronic. Acute distress is intense and disappears quickly — like a car accident. Chronic is typically not so intense, but it lingers for long periods of time even days, weeks or months according to Brian Seaward in his book, Managing Stress Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being.
Seaward said 43 percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects due to distress.
Can we name them? Off-hand you’re probably thinking heart disease, ulcers, headaches/migraines, irritability, and more. You’d be right. Don’t forget stress has been linked to cancer, lung ailments, cirrhosis, and suicide, Seaward wrote in 2008.
Has it improved in the 11 years since he wrote his book? No.
Most of us would say distress in our lives has increased.
Unfortunately, most Americans rely too heavily on artificial stimulants to relieve stress — alcohol, marijuana, illegal and prescription drugs. Those only mask the deeper issues and never solve the problems involved in an individual’s life.
Let’s take a self-assessment;
Do you use artificial stimulants to relax?
If so, how often?
How much? (One drink/joint/dose per week? Twice? Three or four times a week?)
Did your problems disappear after you were sober again?
Again, no. In many cases, it was worse.
Stress can be reduced dramatically by finding a balance between one’s physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual self. All four parts should be addressed. Leaving one out will continue to cause imbalance.
A positive way to begin reducing stress is to find out what your health philosophy is. What do health and wellness mean to you? What would you want it to be? How can you change it?
Keeping a journal is a great way to chronicle your changes. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming. 15 minutes after you wake up or go to bed.
Begin with writing down your top 10 stressors and the ways you can start to eliminate or change these stressors.
Write down what your reactions are to times of stress; are you overreacting to a situation that doesn’t warrant it? Under distress, did you eat? Do you have trouble sleeping?
Keep a journal for a week and see what patterns develop.
Feel free to comment below and I’ll include them (anonymously) in next week’s discussion. I’ll also include more specific ways we can reduce daily stress.