Only 50 years ago, the word stress was a noun used by physicists to mean elasticity or the result of external force upon an object; only scientists and engineered cared. Now the word seems to be one of our very favorite verbs due to the ground-breaking research done by Hans Selye about 50 years ago.
But the 21st century concept of stress is uniformly negative; when we claim we are stressed out, complain to our friends and families that we are just ‘too stressed’ to deal with yet another problem, we see ourselves as exhausted, physically and emotionally…never considering the benefits of stress. You know how to do this, so do I; that’s why I am writing and you are reading about these five really simple tips because all we need is to be reminded, both of us.
Did she say there are benefits to stress?
You bet I did.
We forget, all too easily, that in a very real sense, stress is one of the reasons we are alive: a person totally without stress, any stress at all, is dead. Human are hard-wired to work, accomplish, learn create, change.
Our minds, our bodies, our spirits crave stress; whether it’s the stress of a new work-out regimen, learning a new language, finally deciding to write that novel you’ve thought about for years, accomplishment, or what Hans Selye called eustress, can come only after the work is done, after the stress and strain of grappling with a new challenge or trying to re-frame an old one.
Here are my tips for making stress work for you rather than against you.
- Stop using the word as a negative verb.
- Decide to set your own pace.
- Recommit to your work, daily, hourly or as often as it takes.
- Be of use to others.
- Work fewer hours.
Stop using phrases like I’m stressed out or I’m too stressed or any of the other complaints you’ve been in the habit of saying or hear others say. Re-frame the concept of stress in your head and consider stress one of the things that keeps you alive…breathing…growing.
Setting your own pace may not be feasible if deadlines are set for you by your superior but I am guessing that my penchant for setting unreasonable deadlines may not be unique to me. All too often, I underestimate the real time any given task will take me either because I have not thought it through completely or I am eager to please a customer. But take some time to think about the pace at which you work comfortably and gear your work to fit within that time frame; try not to compare yourself with anyone else-this is about you.
Recommiting to work probably sounds peculiar but I have found that essential during the times when I’ve been immersed in big projects that take on a life of their own and a major chunk of mine along with them. A simple respite away from the computer, a short walk to remember just why you have decided to do this with heavy emphasis on you decide helps us get back in the drivers seat. We do have options here.
To be of use to others one of the major reasons we do what we do, you and I. The process of recommitment leads directly here. But it helps to say it, think it, write it.
Working less is advised by many experts and some of the top successful people in the world.
Because if we’re putting in 14 or 16 hour work days, much of that time is not productive. We’re wasting time. One of the many lies we tell ourselves is the assumption that time spent at a task is equal to productive time. In fact, some experts claim that after 25 minutes, our attention and concentration drops significantly.
While researching material for this article, I found The Poem written by Selye and was compelled to share one stanza:
….Sometimes I feel lonesome, uncertain on my new trail, For where I go no one has been before And there is no one with whom to share the things I see-or think I see. Still, to succeed, I must convince others to follow me and help; For I also need their faith in me to reinforce my own Which has so little evidence to lean on now, For now is the beginning.
– See more at: http://www.stress.org/thepoem/#sthash.Xw27LSpk.dpuf
Author Bio: Lin Wilder, DrPH is a former Hospital Director now full time writer, If you liked this article, Lin suggests her new novel, A Fragrance Shed By A Violet now available at Tate Publishing.