Stress: Technical Definition
“The amount of energy you need to adjust to the internal and external demands of your life in a given amount of time.”
Stress is the balance between what you have to do and the resources you have to do it with. So … something stressful on Monday may not be stressful on Tuesday, when you have lots of time and lots of help.
When balancing what we have to do against our resources, what resource is constantly in short supply? TIME
As I mentioned last week, although what triggers stress differs from person to person, almost all of us are familiar with the stress that results when we have to do more things than we have time for. I think just everyone has this in common today – with more to do every day at home and work and less and less time to do it in. But time pressures aren’t the only kind of stress.
There are two major types of stress:
- being late for work and having a sick partner.
- having one overdrawn cheque and a whole chequebook full of them.
- one argument with your partner and daily sniping that occurs in a troubled marriage.
Although your body reacts with the fight-or-flight response in each situation, it’s imperative that you can distinguish between the two levels of stress.
- the source of the stress is immediate and identifiable,
- the stress can be resolved in a short period of time,
- it is usually uncomfortable, but dealing with it is often necessary for survival. For example:
- avoiding an imminent traffic accident,
- regaining your footing while climbing a mountain.
- it can be pleasurable in many situations. For example:
- the excitement you feel when you navigate a downhill run on a ski slope,
- when you hit a perfect golf stroke,
- when you surf successfully along a large wave at the beach.
The rush you experience in all of the above situations is your body and mind raising your physical awareness by releasing adrenaline which prepares your body for urgent action, and endorphins which dull your body’s sensation of pain – both at the same time.
- the source of the stress is unclear, not immediate and sometimes not even recognizable, for example:
- chronic conflict with your boss or coworker,
- continuous worry over your child’s school progress,
- an ongoing personal health problem,
- acute marital problems such as separation or divorce.
Unfortunately, much of the stress you face on a daily basis falls into this category. This type of stress places very different demands on your body and mind than Type One stress.
Next Tuesday (April 10th), I’ll be talking about Stress:
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
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