We know, stress is always referred to as a bad thing, but it does actually have some benefits.
Now that’s not to say that all stress is a good thing, far from it, but the ‘good’ stress is something worth acknowledging.
Yerkes and Dodson, two American researchers coined a bell curve of benefit from stress because they observed if you had no stress in your life, you would be dead. Too much stress, and 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
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. That is to say that stressors don’t exist until our brain 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. Ironically, you can see the same stressor and interpret it differently. The opposite also applies as we can interpret a stressor as a source of challenge, opportunity, or success. 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, you might feel anxious about going up on 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.