Good Stress, Bad Stress

If you are a participant in modern day media, be it active or unwilling, you would assume that the term stress should always be associated with something that is bad for your health.

Yerkes and Dodson, two American researchers coined a bell curve of benefit from stress because they observed if one had no stress in one’s life, one would be dead and too much stress you could also be dead or at least border on feeling that way!

Hans Selye is still regarded as a forefather of much of modern day research into what he called the stress response.

“At Ford Health, we continue to teach a simple model of Good Stress, Bad Stress to assist our clients to cope better with the demands of today’s active lifestyles.”

Stressors are anything that we might be exposed to. Stressors can be real (exist here and now) or imagined (what could be). There are three different subgroups.

1. Cataclysmic events effect lots of people at one time. This could be a flood a fire or a famine.
2. Life events. As a rule, we say these are things that effect you and your family, but not my family or me.

Let’s say if you lost your father or you imagined what it might be like to be married or have a child. Life events can be seen playing out every day in modern offices, sometimes causing colleagues to wonder what’s going on in another worker’s private life that might affect their performance at work and vice versa. A family member might wonder what is happening at work for a family member to behave differently and come home angry.

3. Hassles. You spill coffee on your new office outfit, you forget to
clean your teeth, you leave a key for your car at home etc.

Stressors Relationship Model

Now with a simple formula for determining if a stressor is real, imagined, cataclysmic, life event or hassle, we can move to the next stage of pattern recognition and that is to say that stressors don’t exist until our brain as it were determines if the stressor is potentially dys-stressful “dys” greek for bad, eu-stressful “eu” is greek for good.

“The brains perception of something, is how we cognitively process a stressor to decide what should be our response to it. Nothing is right or wrong, good or bad, up or down, in or out, night or day until we interpret it so the brains perception of determining if a stressor is a source of harm, threat, danger, fear of failure, loss of face or grief is when we feel distressed.”

The primitive reaction of fight flight or fright is based on our perception and ironically you can be married to someone for many years, and see the same stressor and interpret it differently. The opposite also applies we can interpret a stressor as a source of
challenge, opportunity, success, I could win, I have won and for that a state of eustress prevails. But an interesting thing also occurs. When you see a tiger for example – your heart rate goes up, your vision improves, you sometimes sweat in preparation to cool your body to run away, these exact same bodily responses can occur when you are receiving an award for a good deed.

So even though you’re getting an award for doing a good deed, some of us feel anxious about going up onto the stage and receiving the gift. The same thing might hold for those who don’t or do like public speaking. “To learn how to how to cope with stressors we can learn to modify our interpretations and from that change what could have been distressful into something that is eustressful.”
This perception of stressors is overwhelming and so we encourage individuals to try to detach themselves from this general state of gravity using a variety of methods, such as the 8 H’s for high performance humans.

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