Rethinking Stress

What thoughts come to mind when you think of the word “Stress”?

Worry, anxiety, nausea, junk food, no exercise, overweight, ulcers, illness, popping pills, lack of focus, multi-tasking, caffeine, sick days. For most of us, these are at least some of the things that we think of when we draw out what stress looks like to us in today’s modern society.

But what if there was a different way to look at stress, a more positive way to frame how we view stress in our lives and a way to associate differently with it.

Consider this equation.

STRESS + REST = GROWTH

To use a real example, when you run, you create a certain level of stress and inflammation in the body. Muscle fibre is broken down as part of exercising. When you are finished and you allow your body to rest and repair, this is where the muscle fibres are rebuilt a little stronger than they were before. So given the stress (the exercise), the rest (the repair) is crucial to the growth (to become stronger).

The same equation can apply to any type of stress – stress in your job when you have to do something that you have never done before, stress in your home life if you have bills to pay or kids to mind, stress in your relationships. Embrace the stressful situation and when it is over, embrace the rest period. Rinse and repeat.

It sounds so easy yet most of us do not perceive or handle stress this way. The problem starts when we ignore the rest period and we allow ourselves to slip into a state of chronic relentless stress. It is deemed “chronic” by the absence of any rest period. Without any rest, the body is simply in a constant state of high alert which will eventually result in fatigue and burn out.

I’ve been through this cycle a few times in my life and while the source of stress was different each time, the end result was the same. It was during these times of chronic stress, that I have reached the lowest moments of my life. Times where I felt completely broken, demoralised and emotionally empty. This is what my fatigue and burn out looked like. Thankfully, I have learnt from these experiences and now I try to approach and manage my stresses in a more positive way. I am painfully aware of the rest period – it is non negotiable.

STRESS + REST = GROWTH

Try to remember this simple formula and think about how you can apply it to the stressful areas of your own life.

Stress and everything about it is one of my favourite topics so I would love to hear how you manage your stress. Leave a comment below. Have you ever hit rock bottom and how did you recover from that place? What advice would you give someone who is experiencing chronic daily stress? What habits do you find helpful in managing stress?

Yours in health and happiness,

JP

 

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