In honour of stress awareness week, together we will explore the positive benefits of positive pressure. While its negative impacts are well known, the benefits of successfully managed levels of stress can contribute to a balanced life. In this article, we discuss how to differentiate between beneficial stress that speaks to our drivers in positive ways and bad stress that is detrimental to our mental and physical health.
Have you heard of eustress?
Coined by Dr Hans Selye, eustress arises from positive stimulators in our lives. Throughout the many challenges we face in our lives, a healthy dose of good stress may help build and maintain endurance towards our goals. Have you noticed the effects of positive pressure towards reaching milestones and bigger goals? This may occur from the moment we get out of bed to looking forward to something that we wish to accomplish.
The side effects of eustress include greater focus, feeling more confident, a positive attitude towards challenges and reaching towards greater performance, for an overall improved professional and personal wellbeing.
Now take a break from reading, and think of the small rewards you give yourself and what fulfils you on a daily basis? If you cannot find moments like these, then it’s time to start noticing them!
For example, in terms of professional development, you may generate eustress by earning a certification or a specialised course. Ever walked out of a satisfying work meeting feeling like a superhuman walking on air? This is eustress. By strengthening your abilities and qualities you focus on valuing yourself and consolidating your know-how. Establishing milestones help pave the way towards your greater goals, also giving you a chance to reward yourself for the hard work to further stimulate your progress.
Distress at every corner
In the context of our lives, stress is everywhere. Nowadays, we may be impacted by constant stresses that we no longer recognise as such. Before our lives became more complex, our main source of stress simply implied staying alive. Predators like snakes and lions were clearly identified, and our survival relied upon our ability to enter fight or flight mode. Today, stress triggers look slightly different: our phones and other screens through which we communicate have become the sources of perceived threats. Our smartphones may be the bearers of bad news, like the loss of a job and death of a loved one. Working remotely due to COVID-19 means more time spent paying attention to notifications, emails and phone calls.
Multitasking between personal and professional matters may have become part of your daily routine. The alarm clock that we put on snooze, making sure the kids are in school on time while keeping up with our to-do list, the constant blinking of smartphone notifications, these types of pressures feed into the rise of micro-stresses. Additionally, our human relationships have become increasingly complex, in part due to social media and the culture of direct messaging. Maintaining harmony requires more energy and attention than ever before.
With the above factors, our systems are continuously producing higher levels of hormones than necessary like cortisol. This in turn impacts negatively on our body systems. However we do not consider them as sources of stress, we compare time off to being lazy, self-care in the form of going offline as an indulgence when we are in dire need of it. As the coronavirus pandemic has blurred the barriers of our professional and personal lives, new stressors may invade our homes and personal space. We shouldn’t ignore the physiological impact of heightened micro-stresses.
Find relief from micro-stress with neuroenergetic kinesiology
Adopt a conscious mindset
Be in the present moment, stop projecting yourself in the future with a million of different outcomes and possibilities. Best case scenario, worst case scenario, plan B, C and D are great but too often they take us away from the present experience, which can in fact feel safe and reduce our levels of negative stress.
We can learn to develop greater consciousness of the activities we do enjoy in our daily lives, the things we have control over and can find contentment in. This may help clearly identify the situations that may affect us negatively and cause us stress, whether they are necessary or inevitable. In a more relaxed state, we may be more sensitive to the changes we can make to alleviate recurring pains and tensions and take the steps towards greater balance in the long term.
Helpful Habit: Try this at home
Learning to breathe deeply through key exercises can provide immediate relief in situations that may arise in our everyday lives: a phobia or a peaking of stress before an important meeting. Diaphragmatic breathing also known as “slow abdominal breathing” activates the vagus nerve, which communicates with the parasympathetic system. This system has the ability to tune down stress and halt the overproduction of stress hormones like cortisol.
For stresses that deeply affect your wellbeing, a technique based on ESR (emotional stress release) principles can help. By holding specific acupoints, present along the meridians in Traditional Chinese Medicine, one may release blockages, allow the brain to process the negative emotions and tune down stress. This technique is particularly effective when processing past emotional experiences with strong subconscious components related to survival systems.
This technique may seem vague to the uninitiated, here is a sample case study: The “Gall bladder 14” acupressure point is located 1 cm above the midpoint of the eyebrow. Holding this point thinking about a specific emotion may release the intensity of the feeling. It is best to use a scaling system: before you begin, rate your emotional level from 1 to 5 (5 being the highest level of stress and 1 the lowest). Repeat the rating once you have maintained acupressure for a few minutes. Compare your emotional levels before and after.
Throughout these exercises and the stimulation of eustress, the objective is to bring your body back to homeostasis. This more balanced state may pull you out of the fight and flight mechanism triggered by unhealthy habits that you might be unaware of.
If you have found these techniques helpful and wish to pursue a path into alleviating deeper stresses, book a one-on-one session with Sandra now here .