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Eliminate 80-90% of Your Stress in FIVE SECONDS
Why you should read this. About 9 minutes
A study from Harvard shows we waste 46.9% of our waking hours each day thinking about negative junk that interferes with our lives. That’s almost EIGHT HOURS every day that we throw away. This 9-minute read will give you the tools you need to decrease your negative thinking and get more hours a day that you can use to pursue your hopes, dreams, and plans.
Stress is not what you have been told. This stress eliminator will give you the concepts and procedures to understand what stress really is and a “tool” you can use to eliminate 80-90% of the “bad” stress in your life in 5 Seconds, or Less.
This stress eliminator will also help with the times when you don’t feel distressed, but you find your focus is drifting off a task you need to get done. The procedures will help you regain and maintain your ability to focus on getting your work done, because the same brain processes are at work when your focus wanders as when you are feeling stressed.
It is amazing to see how the definitions for stress have changed over time. In his original paper, published in 1936, Hans Selye defined stress as “the body’s non-specific reaction to any demand for change.”
By the 1960s psychologists and psychiatrists were focused on negative emotional states as the source of stress. Dr. Richard Lazarus defined psychological stress as a “particular relationship between the person and environment that is appraised by the person as taxing or exceeding his or her resources and endangering his or her wellbeing.”
Over a course of 30 years, stress had changed from any demand for change to something we perceive as an overwhelmingly threatening emotion that comes from our perceived inability to handle something.
This later definition is the one we have been conditioned to believe defines stress, but it is a really disempowering definition. It keeps us locked in the belief we are helpless to do anything about it other than distract ourselves from the things that are stressing us. Any website about stress will offer you basically the same advice about what you should do AFTER you figure out you are stressed.
Their tips all say stress can be managed by regular exercise, meditation or other relaxation techniques, structured timeouts, seeking support from loved ones, or learning new coping strategies.
All these tips tell you to do something other than what you are stressing about and you will feel better. And they are all exactly right. You will feel better, temporarily. But the distracting activities actually have nothing to do with what is causing you stress, do they?
Let me introduce you to two of the guiding principles behind all teachings you will find on this site. Facts, and Required Energy.
A fact has no emotions. We certainly have emotions about facts, but the fact itself has no emotions. A fact is something that is supported by evidence. A fact is verifiable. Emotions require conscious involvement to create them.
It requires a lot less energy to avoid creating a problem than it does to fix one. For example, it takes a lot more energy to put out a fire than it does to be careful not to start one.
If we accept the original definition of stress, “any demand for change,” as a fact and as the actual definition of the concept we call stress, we are immediately more empowered than we were a couple minutes ago. We now have a working definition. There are of course a huge number of different kinds and levels of demands and stresses or stressors, but understanding the concept empowers us to create procedures for managing those “demands.” And, having better skills will enable us to manage the demands better.
Selye made the point, and the experts agree, that the body always has work to do so there is always some stress. He repeatedly reminded his audiences that even while we are sleeping there is stress. Our heart keeps beating and we keep breathing. While we are dreaming, our adrenal glands are busy putting our hormones. He says the only human that has no stress is a dead one.
Stress should be considered simply as work the body must do, or the wear and tear on our body.
Good Stress The demands for change that we interpret as emotionally positive, or demands we like, create in us “good” feelings, and these he termed “eustress.” This is the kind of stress we enjoy.
Bad Stress The demands for change that we interpret emotionally negative, or demands we don’t like, create in us “bad” the feelings, and these he termed “distress.” This is the type of stress that harms us the most and destroys our health.
Both distress and eustress cause wear and tear on our bodies. Both can lead to exhaustion and damage to our bodies.
However, and it is a huge however, our cerebral cortex can quickly, certainly, and easily distinguish the difference between spending a lazy Sunday afternoon making love or having a root canal.
So, the type of stress we need to learn better procedures for, is distress. From this point on I will no longer just call it stress. I will be a lot more precise and refer to something as either distress or eustress. As you can now see, they are very different.
Some distressing events we cannot avoid. Loved ones move away or die. We lose our job. We break a bone. We become ill. Those things we cannot avoid but we can learn to keep them in perspective.
Human adults think in stories. They can be good stories, bad stories, happy stories, sad stories, scary stories or hopeless stories. The most important thing about our stories is that we make them up. We write them.
Sometimes they contain facts but most often they are fantasies, and they are negative fantasies. The energy we create when we have to work at fixing a problem that was created by one of our distressing stories is always negative.
If we tell ourselves the same distressing story long enough we will eventually believe it.
Here is an example of how variable the effects of our story may be.
The Stress Suitcase.
Imagine you are carrying a fifty-pound suitcase.
You might be:
- Going on a vacation
- Going to a funeral
- Smuggling cash out of the country
- Moving to a new home
- Moving out of your childhood home
- Throwing out a cheating spouse
- Going on a work trip
In each case, the suitcase weighs fifty pounds, regardless of the reason you are carrying it. The actual “stress,” is the weight your body has to carry. That weight, fifty pounds, is the same in each situation.
Besides the contents of the suitcase, what is different about each situation? Emotions! The different emotions associated with each situation are the only variables.
If you like the reason you are carrying the suitcase, it is called “eustress,” and the suitcase feels lighter.
If you have negative emotions about the reason you are carrying the suitcase, it is called “distress,” and the suitcase will feel heavier. If you are throwing out a cheating spouse, you might not even feel the weight because your hurt and your anger may have given you enough energy to throw that damned suitcase clear across the yard.
You can see it isn’t anything like what you were taught. Here is a summary about the concept of stress. Stress is the actually the work the body must do, the work of living.
There are basically two kinds of work.
Eustress is the work we like. We can all think of things we have done all day because we were enjoying our self so much, and we went to sleep exhausted. But when we woke up the next morning we were ready to do it all over again. That’s real Eustress. It is true that having so much fun can also wear out our body, but I will sign up for that one in a New York second.
The other kind of work is distress. It is the work we don’t like. It will make us unhappy, sick, and eventually kill us, but ever so slowly, and we will not enjoy the experience.
We need to be able to distinguish between the three.
- What is the actual stress in this situation?
- Am I feeling Eustress?
- Am I feeling Distress?
The quickest way to do that is to look carefully at the facts of the situation.
Walking into a church is a good example to illustrate the correct procedure when considering the work involved. What is our observation regarding walking into the church? There is the work of walking the body must do to get you into the church.
That is the most accurate and factual observation. The observation answers the question, what is the actual stress involved, or the work being done by the body.
The body does not care if it is walking into a wedding or walking into a funeral. The body is focused on walking into a church.
Besides taking care of the walking, our brain is also busy telling us a story about WHY we are walking into the church. We have chosen the story line and it is the story that actually creates the feelings that dictates if the event is eustress or if it is distress.
A vitally important thing to remember is that Eustress and Distress are both stories. They are stories we tell ourselves about the work our body must do.
The stories can be about real things, or they can be about imaginary things. We make that choice. Eustress is almost never a problem, unless we are using a pleasurable activity to the extreme that it interferes with the rest of our life. Usually we don’t need to decrease the amount of eustress we have in our lives.
What we want, and need, is to do is decrease the amount of unnecessary distress in our lives. Significantly decreasing our level of distress will create a huge amount of time and energy to do the things we want to do. A study from Harvard concludes we spend almost seven and a half hours a day focused on our stories and not on our life.
We can train our brain to avoid creating so many distressing stories and not be so influenced by negative emotional content. After all, we were the one who trained it to tell those stories and be so open to making choices based on the momentary emotion, so we can re-train it not to do that without our permission.
© 2017 Douglas McKee