Stress is Optional: Healthy Versus Unhealthy Stress
Some stress is actually healthy, so it’s important to distinguish between the two. It’s not about eliminating stress entirely, but about creating internal emotional balance and learning how to tap into calm to get grounded when stress triggers appear in your daily life experience.
Some fear is good and serves us (eustress). By example, you feel startled stepping off a curb due to not looking both ways first as a car flies by you. This is instinctual and useful. The challenge today is that “fight-or-flight” or “paralyzing” fear is mostly unnecessary, unless you literally have a bear chasing you down.
However, the fast-paced life, the immensely negative effect of technology on our nervous system 24/7, the sensationalized fear-based media news feed and many other environmental and health concerns cumulatively trigger our fight or flight mechanism. Many are living each day in a constant state of fight-or-flight which in turn compromises our nervous system, depletes our immune system and keeps ease, success and wonder-filled life experiences at arms’ length.
So, your opportunity is to learn how to minimize or, ideally, resolve the triggers that influence your own stress levels to regain and maintain ease internally and externally. It comes down to training yourself to focus on what you desire versus what you don’t desire—and to replace worn-out habits with fresh ones.
When I refer to stress, I’m including every form of “what if” worry, fear, procrastination, resistance, denial, worn-out habits—basically all that weighs you down and robs you of your daily sense of vibrancy and ease.
Addicted to Stress
We have looked at some staggering statistics on this addiction to stress, but here are another few head shakers:
- Over 40 million Americans struggle with some form of an anxiety issue.*
- 1 in 14 people experience mild to severe anxiety. In a 2012 survey, 20 per cent of Americans said they were experiencing extreme levels of stress. And, while 64 per cent said that it is “extremely” important to manage stress, only 37 per cent felt they were actually doing an excellent or very good job at managing theirs.**
Advocating Stress is Optional
This is not okay, not remotely okay. Why are we all accepting this as the norm? My mission as a “Stress is Optional: advocate is to provoke and encourage you to being the individual in the room who is a stress is optional advocate by:
- Knowing what if worry, fear, resistance, procrastination can be replaced with ease;
- Leading self and others from the place of Stress is Optional;
- Differentiating between healthy stress and soul-sucking, draining, addictive stress;
- Cultivating mindful-awareness; make choices to minimize stress and increase ease;
- Engage in conversations to influence a shift for a stress less society to as the norm;
- Committing to replace worn-out thoughts, attitude, images with ones that focus on what you do desire; and
- Starting transparent conversation on stress is optional to be the new norm and expectation.
Make Shift Happen
So, where does one begin? There are some super simple shifts we can all make to experience each day with more calm and less stress. When we do this, we become acutely aware of not wanting to return to a stressed state. This becomes the driving motivation to make bigger changes with fresh goals that represent a commitment to a non-negotiable “stress is optional” lifestyle, period.
Some healthy habits you can implement today which myself, family friends and clients swear by are:
Stop to Ask: Does this Choice Get me Closer to or Further Away from My Ideal? When a situation feels negatively loaded or a hurdle presents itself, pause even for just 10 seconds and consider your last choice prior to feeling this way. Then, ask yourself the above question. It pulls you into the present moment, allowing you to mindfully move forward with an inspired choice. If your answer is no, then make another choice. Change takes place in moment to moment choices.
Remember: Perfection is Boring! Many A-type personality clients of mine have busted this habit and cannot believe the freedom and ease in doing so. At some point, you just need to take action. So, next time you are waiting to take action because your website isn’t updated; your business cards haven’t arrived; you are not yet comfortable with how to deliver your message, move forward anyways.
You may be considering a new revenue offering, so give yourself a defined amount to time to explore and develop it and then put it out into the world or let it go! The pursuit of perfecting your craft is honourable. Waiting for perfection before moving forward is just an excuse to not show up for yourself. Some out in the world right now has a problem that needs solving. You have a service or product that can provide the solution. Move into inspired-action and get it out there!
And Don’t Forget: What You Resist Will Persist. In the moment of awareness of feeling any form of resistance, pause. Take a few deep breaths in and out and actually scan your body. Ask yourself “what am I feeling?” “How do I want to feel?” Then, take an inspired-action step toward feeling that way. Much of our resistance is a mechanism to put-off doing what you know if your next best step forward. So as Susan Jeffers says “feel the fear and do it anyways.” Every successful leader has learned to become comfortable being uncomfortable as they know this means they are growing forward.
*Oprah/Deepak meditation audio program
Christine Monaghan is a human-potential champion, co-creating solutions with leaders and teams to get from goal-setting to goal-achieving with a stress solutions approach. Her commitment—to influence clients to goal-achieve utilizing proven success principles; provoke a cultural shift from “stress is normal” to “stress is optional”; increase productive potential; decreased stress –based immense costs; become the leader others want to follow. Christine is a consultant; 1:1 coach, eLearning platform founder, author and international podcast host (Mental Health News Radio network).