When did you last go looking for
The essence of modern stress is
you have noticed life is stressful. Stress comes at us from all directions. It comes from
the big and small events as well as the positive and negative events of life. Sometimes
life seems so stressful that people will claim they would like to learn how to have no
stress, at least, for a short while. They want to be "stress free." This is
unfortunate because we have a word that is used to describe people who have no stress. The
word is "dead." Most people do not want to be this relaxed. Life is inherently
stressful, and we are always confronting potential stressors - those events that can cause
stress. As long as you are alive, stress will not be avoided.
Without some stress life would be boring. Sometimes when we do not have enough stress we
intentionally seek some. Can you remember what you were doing the last time you went
looking for stress on purpose? A certain amount of stress creates motivation and
challenge. If you have ever gone snow skiing, white water rafting, or to an amusement park
on purpose to ride the roller coaster, then you have been seeking stress. During these
activities your body will be showing all the physiological indicators of stress. However,
if we ask what you are doing, you will probably reply that you are, "Having
fun." Since you have voluntarily entered the situation, you feel in control of it.
You have also redefined what it means to you. It is exciting, fun, and a challenge. If
someone was making you do these things against your will then you might be terrified.
These same activities would create significant distress for you.
So we can see that stress comes in two flavors. There is positive stress, which is called
eustress, and negative stress, which is distress. Positive stress is what turns you on,
and distress is what wears you out. Positive stress involves such changes as getting
married, having a baby, or accepting a promotion that requires you to relocate. With
positive stress as we adapt and adjust we feel competent, challenged, and satisfied with
our ability to cope. While you could theoretically have so many good things, so much
eustress, happen to you that you became stressed-out, most of us do not complain about the
Negative stress, distress, however, is another matter. We do not like it and try to avoid
it. This cannot be done, however, because the essence of modern stress comes from change,
and change cannot be avoided. Change itself is not the problem. Change has always been
with us. The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, taught that "The only thing that is
constant is change." He also said that, "You cannot step into the same river
twice." Everything is moving and flowing. What has happened is that
"change" has changed. It has become more rapid. Events will not slow down again.
We are living in what we will soon look back on as, "the good old days" when
things were slow. As the rate of change increases so does the level of distress.