As a new Rise VT advocate I have been given lots of resources for learning about how to embrace a healthy lifestyle.  This past week I read an article published by the Wellness Council of America that has me thinking differently about stress and I have been so excited that I knew I had to blog about it.
 
Often when we think stress, we think of  the negative experiences we have associated with overwork, anxiety, and so-on.  Maybe you feel that the uncomfortable effects of stress are out of your control.  Great news!  Stress is something we can work with!  In fact, one type of stress, called eustress actually helps us to feel more energized, focused, and gives of a feeling that the work we are doing is effortless.  Take a look at this chart below which describes the balancing act of eustress and distress.   

stress curve

At the top of the curve we feel productive, energized and enjoy our work. When the stress becomes too great  we start to have symptoms.  High levels of stress can cause symptoms like agitations, anger, stomach upsets, back and neck pain, heart palpitations, recurrent colds and high blood pressure to name a few.  At this point it becomes easy to try and distract ourselves from our stress with more stress.  Think about it.  Have you ever found yourself checking and rechecking Facebook or your email when you stressed, or over-eating, drinking too much coffee, spending too much money, or watching TV later than intended?  I know I have.  These are really just counter-productive coping-skills and mildly addictive behaviors that we think will help with the stress.  Productive ways to “de-stress” are meditating, exercising, eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep.

 
The take away that I got from this research on stress, and that I hope you will too, is that with a greater willingness to be aware of our stress levels we can make chooses about our daily decisions that will bring us greater healthy, peace of mind, and productivity at work and in our personal lives.
 
Here are some simple steps to work with your stress:
  1. To move a mundane task from boredom to peak performance try setting a timer for 10 minutes. Racing the clock while you tidy up will add just enough stress to help you focus and even enjoy the task.
  2. Pay attention and notice when you have gone over the hump of peak performance stress and begun to fall into distress.  Mentally or in writing evaluate your day.  Are you getting enough sleep?  Are you eating foods that nourish you and support your health?  Are there any things you’re doing, such as watching TV or checking your phone, that are causing you more stress?
  3. To bring your stress down quickly try jumping rope or running on stairs for just 2 minutes, breathe deeply for 5 minutes, or stepping out into nature.  

In these times we need all the help we can get in our goals of staying balanced and healthy.  I hope you will continue to utilize RiseVT, your community resources, and your friends and family for support in your journey towards embracing a healthy lifestyle.