Eliminate Stress or Embrace It?

written by Roger Carr on June 11, 2014 in Avoiding Burnout with no comments">no comments

How do you view stress? Is it a good thing to have in your life or is it something to stomp out so you can live stress‐free?

strengthening steel

Photo Credit: Flavio~ via Compfight cc

The Breaking Point

When I pursued a mechanical engineering degree years ago, I conducted several laboratory experiments. Some of those experiments tested the strength of different types of metals.

One comparison I made was between the measured strength of a standard piece of steel and the strength of the same steel that was hardened and tempered. This hardening and tempering process includes heating up the steel to stress levels the material could handle and then cooling it down to relieve the stress. What did the comparison of test results show?

The strength of the tempered steel was greater than the steel that had not been put through the stress. The stress strengthened the steel.

Living Without Stress

You may have a desire to completely eliminate stress from your life. If stress keeps us from being productive and causes us health problems, this makes sense, right?

But what if stress can be good for you? Then stress wouldn’t be something to eliminate. It is something to embrace.

Just like the metallurgy strength tests I conducted years ago, we can get stronger through experiencing stress in our life. In fact, life would be very boring without some stress.

If you are pursuing a vision and purpose, you have stress in your life because of the challenge to make things happen. If you are learning new things, you have stress in your life because of the challenge to your thinking and skills. Life would be boring without these challenges and the stress they bring us. We become better as we get through the stress.

Eustress

This stress that is good for you has a name: Eustress. The word literally means “good stress.”

Stress isn’t the event, the stressor. It is a state of mind based on how well you can respond to the stressor. For it to be eustress, you are able to completely adapt to the stressor.

Each person has different levels smd types of stressors they can handle. Fortunately, we are able to take action and become more hardy and resiliant to handle more stressors in the future than we can today.

Living With Too Much Stress

You shouldn’t eliminate stress, but you shouldn’t accumulate too much stress either. Too much stress over time can negatively affect your health and relationships. It can also hurt your creativity, productivity, and enthusiasm.

Distress

Distress is essentially the opposite of eustress. Distress is a bad state you experience when you can’t fully adapt to the stressor. Distress is something to avoid. You need to steer away from the levels smd types of stressors you can’t handle. You also should work to become more hardy and resiliant over time so distress is less likely to occur.

We need to live in eustress not distress. Which state are you living in today?

Question: What stressors in the past have caused you to move from a state of eustress to a state of distress? What have you done to move from distress to eustress? Leave a comment by clicking here.

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