Well, it’s been just over a year since my 2nd book, Less Stress Life, was published. I’ve given countless talks and interviews and still love talking stress with whoever will listen.
The five questions below seem to crop up in nearly every talk. So, hopefully these answers will help provide you with answers to the stress questions you wonder about. Here goes…
Question 1: Is there such a thing as too much stress? Yes. While some stress can energize us and help maximize our performance, chronic stress can do the opposite. Chronic stress can have significant health consequences. For example, one study found that women going through two or more divorces had a rise in heart attack risk that was similar to that of a smoker or person with diabetes. Spotting and reducing stress is critical to your health and well-being.
Question 2: Are some people naturally better at managing stress than others? Yes. We are each wired differently. Some of us can handle a great deal of stress (and even thrive from it) while others quickly spiral downward from daily annoyances like traffic or rudeness. What matters most is knowing your stress threshold. Spot your stress when it arises then ask yourself: Is my stress helping or hurting me? If your stress is not helpful then consider how you can think or behave in a new way.
Question 3: Is it possible to get addicted to stress or can we unwittingly invite stress? Yes. Some people wear stress as a badge of honor. They believe their stress shows others how important they are. Others have such discomfort with silence and stillness that they overfill their lives with commitments and busyness. I used to be guilty of all of what I call self-inflicted stress. Know yourself by asking: What’s the right amount of stress for me?
Question 4: Is it possible to de-escalate stressful conversations: Yes. When we catch a conversation growing louder, causing our palms to sweat, or setting off one of our stress triggers, it helps to remember we have options. We can say something like this: I’m not quite ready to have this conversation today. Can we come back to this later? Or we can shift from talking to listening by focusing on understanding the other person’s point of view. We can return to sharing our views at a later, calmer time. And, always remember we can speak with our feet and walk away!
Question 5: Is anxiety the same thing as stress? Not exactly. While anxiety and stress may have similar responses in our bodies and minds, they can be different. Stress is our response to a particular situation, positive or negative. While anxiety can be prompted by a fearful situation, it can also be an ongoing reaction to stress. Stress comes and goes. Anxiety can linger well after the stressful experience has passed. When anxiety becomes all-consuming and disrupts daily life it is best treated with professional support.
So, I’d say understanding stress, its health implications, and your responses to it are crucial because, stress is not optional and will keep coming like the waves in the ocean. What is optional is how you choose to handle stress.
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