“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.”
~ Peter Marshall
Good events can be stressful. Remind yourself of that the next time something great is happening yet you feel ‘out of sorts’. That’s normal. Those good things like your vacation, or that new job, or retirement, can bring with them unknowns, and insecurity that shouldn’t be ignored.
Assess your stress on the daily. Learn to recognize what events – good or bad – bring you stress, and use that awareness to take better care of yourself. Then watch the video below, or read the transcript that follows for more thoughts on good stress. Plus, download the Recent Life Changes Questionnaire from the link at the end of the post.
Last week I was up in Northern Alberta presenting a bunch of health and productivity sessions for three great clients. In one of those sessions we had an interesting discussion about STRESS and how even seemingly positive life events like retirement, the birth of child or a promotion at work can be stressful.
Hey, Michelle Cederberg here, pondering GOOD STRESS, how to recognize it, and address it.
Yes, there are good and bad stressors, and there’s also many ways each of us will respond to them. So, if you want to create a robust stress management routine in your life, it’s important to be aware of what causes you stress… even the good things. Here’s why; stress, whether good or bad causes a complex array of physiological changes in your body – an increase in stress hormones, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, blood is redirected away from the gut to the working muscles, pupils dilate, blood sugar increases – all so you’re physically able to battle the stress you’re facing.
We usually expect stress to be bad stress. We can identify those stressors more easily – financial difficulties, poor health, work troubles, a busy day – because they don’t feel good.
In some ways GOOD STRESS events catch us off guard, because they feel good as well as challenging. For example, your might be planning a positive life event like your wedding, or your vacation and you can’t understand why you feel so stressed…which makes you feel bad, and that just adds to your stress.
“What’s wrong with me? I should be enjoying this!”
But, a lot of stress comes from things we can’t control, or the unknowns connected to that event, or what life will be like after that event, so while a vacation should be a de-stressing time of fun and relaxation, many people feel stressed about holidays because that time away creates more work, leaves them further behind, and creates more stress.
That week on the beach in Mexico becomes a source of stress.
Are you paying attention to the events in your life that feel stressful, even when they’re good things?
One of the tools I use to help my clients identify their stressors is The Recent Life Changes Questionnaire developed by Miller and Rahe in the 90s. It lists 73 life events (positive and negative) and asks you to identify which of the events you’ve experienced in the last year. Each event has an associated ‘life change score’ that when totaled gives you an idea of your current stress levels.
It’s a helpful tool, though I’m less interested in the score than I am in helping people simply become aware of the types of events that cause stress – even the good ones. I also want people to rate the level of stress they feel around that life event, and to acknowledge when they have a stress management plan in place for that event.
Retirement for some will be a low stress event that they look forward to. For others it may feel like a high stress event they’re not looking forward to. Neither is wrong. And when you’re aware you can do something about it.
The Recent Life Changes Q is a way to normalize how you might be feeling, and to help you better manage all your stressors.
Download it here so you can download it and assess for yourself: Recent Life Changes Questionnaire michellecederberg.com
At the very least, pay attention to how certain events make you feel. If it’s a tough situation, do what you can to manage your stress. Proper nutrition and sleep are a good start. If it’s a positive event and you’re feeling stressed, just know it’s normal, and focus on the positive parts of the experience as you go through it.
If you have any questions at all about this topic, or if you want me to come to your organization to talk about stress in an enlightening and entertaining way, reach out to me via michellecederberg.com.
You can also connect with me via the comments section.
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