Learning to manage stress can be your ticket to living your goals and dreams.To understand how we can all begin shifting negative stress into positive power, stress expert and author of Stress Gone, Bridget Edwards sheds some light.
Many scientists argue stress is a good thing. What is the difference between good stress and bad stress?
A level of stress is necessary for human survival, our evolution as a species as well as being a catalyst for change.
Humans typically learn and grow best when stretched or when pain and suffering is involved, but excessive or chronic stress can be detrimental, even fatal. In this regard, stress should be considered an early warning signal before life-threatening consequences result.
Good or bad stress is determined by an individual’s perception or stress-related issues – no two people experience stress the same way.
How do you know you are experiencing unhealthy levels?
Stress is unique to each individual – this is what makes the effects difficult to discern.
Developing self-awareness and self-understanding is the most important attribute to learn.
Know yourself, especially your body. Know your limits, and be realistic about your abilities.
Listen to your body. It has an innate intelligence and wisdom which is constantly providing feedback such as discomfort, aches and pains, illness, disease, etc.
Unhealthy levels of stress can show up as cognitive, emotional, physical or behavioral symptoms – all of which vary from person to person.
The biggest tragedy of the modern age is that we have disconnected from our bodies. We don’t listen to this innate intelligence and wisdom.
We completely ignore this feedback, opting instead to take pills to quell symptoms, and then continue to forge on ahead regardless of the consequences expecting different results (see box).
Keep in mind that the signs and symptoms of stress can also be caused by other psychological or medical problems.
If you’re experiencing any of the warning signs of stress, it’s important to seek intervention from a medical practitioner for a full evaluation. Your medical practitioner can help you determine whether or not your symptoms are stress-related.
When key colleagues (bosses, team members who hold your future in their hands) are the ones creating the most negative stress, what do you do?
Stress shows up as a perceived threat, particularly when one feels inadequate, intimidated, insecure, out of depth or vulnerable.
In any situation, the only thing we all have control over is our own internal framework including emotions and inner dialogue.
When someone challenges or causes you negative stress, view this as an ideal opportunity to learn and grow.
First, acknowledge your reaction is only a perception of the situation. Second, know you have the power to change your perception (understandably you may not realise this at the time).
Third, there are exercises and techniques to immediately help you release negative stress, emotions and the associated uncomfortable stressed physical feelings.
Four, if the situation is untenable, you have the choice to extricate yourself – this is where stress becomes a change catalyst.
What are solutions for turning negative stress into positive stress?
Immediately make a conscious effort to relax your mind and body. Breathe.
A stressed mind is confused, disorientated and cannot think clearly, rationally or linearly.
Conscious breathing and relaxing are essential keys to switching off the rampant stressed sympathetic nervous system.
Your attitude towards stressful situations is key. Failures are inevitable stepping stones to success. Surrender the need to be in control, perfectionism, rigidity and resistance which does not help. Be realistic – explore options, ask “what else is possible?” The only reason you’re in stress is because you haven’t yet explored those options. If you cannot find solutions within yourself, seek intervention, and ask for help.
Why are you so passionate about helping people understand and manage stress?
Virtually my entire life has been defined by negative stress. I was born a forceps baby, shipped off to boarding school at 6 years old, had duodenal ulcers around 9-11-years-old, was plagued with constant stomach problems, recurring nightmares, wet my bed, etc – all as a result of acute childhood stress.
This resulted in me becoming a frightened child who constantly felt under threat, insecure and vulnerable. This played out into my adult life where I repeated the learnt negative behavioral patterns which didn’t serve my highest good. Trauma after trauma, I eventually developed adrenal fatigue, Candida intolerance, then chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) followed by severe depression.
The fatal blow was discovering my body was riddled with Rickettsia (tick bite) and Lyme’s disease. I became so ill, I had to hock my possessions and literally lost everything in the process.
During my darkest days, challenged to the n-th degree and hitting rock bottom, life compelled me to face my worst fears.
By doing so, I recognized patterns and decades of stress.
I begun the cathartic process of working on myself. The exercises, techniques and strategies I share are what helped me turn the corner.
Ironically, my entire “stressful” life, including “the darkest nights of my soul”, turned out to be the most invaluable lessons, which I can now impart and share with others so they can positively turn their lives around.
Today, I know it is possible to live a relatively stress-free lifestyle, although not permanently.
Relaxation expands the consciousness.
|Warning signs and symptoms of stress overload|