Have you caught a glimpse in the mirror and noticed you looked a little ragged around the edges? You already get it; stress can wear you out. It affects us all in different ways.
In this article, let’s look at the two types of stress, common signs and symptoms, and what can reasonably be done over time to shift the way you respond to them.
The 2 types of stress
What lies in the center of these two types of stress is your viewpoint. Naming something ‘bad or good’. The response chemicals that are triggered by stress can be highly influenced by how it’s perceived.
Scientists have studied how our perception of an event will determine how our mind and body will define which of the two types we are experiencing and directly determine how we respond, physically and emotionally.
Eustress versus Distress
Sometimes there’s a benefit to pressure and strain. This beneficial force is called, “eustress”, or good stress. Without it, we wouldn’t be here.
Think about what eustress does…
- forms a diamond
- breaks the butterfly’s chrysalis
- makes your bones dense
There are benefits of being squeezed through a birth canal or being challenged to do something outside of our comfort zone. We all need eustress in our lives.
While eustress enhances us – distress breaks us down.
Being in the presence of a stressor that is not positive leads to a host of health problems; especially over time.
Symptoms associated with distress
Here is a list from the Mayo Clinic of the effects of distress on your physical body, your mood, and your behavior.
Some of these are pretty common. That’s because many folks live in environments or situations that are distressing without support.
Sometimes stress shows up sideways
When people come to me for a wellness consultation, they may think there is only something physically wrong that needs changing. Like relying on antiacids to fix a tummy ache flared up by emotional strain. Change the symptom and the damage is gone? Not really.
Although I believe we should support acute-symptom care (thank goodness for band-aids), I am a firm believer in the longer-term, holistic course of action.
Many of us take for granted (or don’t know) there are ways to change our relationship to stress in a positive way that builds our resilience on many levels.
The intention of this practice is to change the stress response. This is mental and physical and requires some practice.
This is rewarding work.
Evaluate your relationship to stress
When we feel stressed out, we say we are under stress.
What if the cause of the stress doesn’t change but your viewpoint does? Are you then still under it? Or do you discover new resources, shift the environment with ease because you don’t feel victimized?
Let me clarify this important principle. It is the reaction that causes the symptoms.
When you shift your viewpoint it changes your relationship to stress. And just like any good relationship, we have to take responsibility for our part and avoid staying in a victim role as much as possible.
And like relationships, sometimes we must leave a situation and if we cannot, we change the way we approach it. If we continue to expect the other person to change instead of looking at ourselves, we may be disappointed by the results.
Basing your responses from self-authority and an activated power of choice is one of the 5-Steps of Holistic Resilience.
Realizing the power to change the things I can…
Put simply, let’s categorize it this way…
Your internal stress response – what you can control
The external stressor – what you cannot control
The Serenity Prayer, penned by Reinhold Niebuhr, is a mantra of sorts within addiction recovery programs. This is because the importance of grasping this concept is paramount to resilience in the face of distress.
Realize what you can and can’t change. And don’t forget, you’ll need some discernment to decide which is which. Take a pause and a breath to gain the wisdom to know the difference.
Build holistic resilience over time
I have spent a lifetime learning to take care of myself.
These skills have been picked up like precious gems from a mine. I’m not sure I’d be here without them.
Digest a simple stress management tool like shifting your relationship to stress by realizing you have the power of choice in the relationship.
- Listen to the symptoms of stress. It’s your body-mind’s way to get your attention.
- Putting on a band-aid as a temporary fix is okay for the short-road.
- Take steps toward the longer vision by asking for help and implement healing practices.
- Pause to give yourself time to discern what you can change.
- Begin taking actions of radical self-care that lead you on the road to radiant, generous health.
I believe in taking small steps that make big shifts. See what your small steps may look like and if the practice of Holistic Resilience is a good fit for you.