Every moment of every day, you are under stress. Everything is a stress, whether you perceive it or not. If you ask most people whether they are stressed, a lot will claim that they aren’t because they only think of a couple versions of stress in their lives. Each time you take a breath you are under stress. Each movement. Each thought. Everything is a stress. The good news is that most of these stressors aren’t perceived because they are below your bodies threshold, or ability to manage the stress. However, occasionally the stress will reach a point, in magnitude or duration, that it exceeds your bodies ability to manage it and it begins to negatively affect you in some form. Again, you may not perceive the negative affects at first, but at some point, if ignored long enough you will notice. The challenge is to manage your exposure to the various stressors in your life so that you are able to cope with them, and become stronger and more resilient as a result.
If everything is a stress, it helps to further categorize the stressors to better understand them. There are physical, chemical, electromagnetic, mental, nutritional, and thermal stressors. For example, a person who might not feel mentally or physically stressed could fail to realize just how much stress he or she is receiving daily through the consumption of processed food. The most important factor when it comes to stress is your bodies ability to cope with the stress and adapt to it. This process of stress and adaptation determines whether you become stronger and more resilient, or broken down, sick, and injured. To further classify stress, a stressor that your body is capable of managing and positively adapting to is considered a eustress, a positive stressor. Something that exceeds your bodies ability to adapt, is considered a distress, or a negative stress.
Revisiting the idea of choice, you want to make sure that you are voluntarily controlling your exposure to each stressor in your life, and trying to turn each one into a eustress, instead of a distress. The more you are able to do this, the stronger, more resilient you become, and the further you will progress down the path to achieving your goals, and your ideal self. For now, it is important not to spend too much time thinking about each individual stressor in life. The takeaway for now, is that everything is a stress, and that you need to consciously be aware of that fact so that you are better able to make the beneficial choices that turn a possible distress into a eustress. As you progress through this Guide, and the programs contained within, you will address different topics and increase you knowledge pertaining to the different categories of stress.
Types of Stress
The most well-known form of stress is psychic or mental stress. If you ask someone whether they think they are stressed, this is usually the only category they think of. Any thought that you have is a psychological stressor. Positive, focused thoughts are usually considered a eustress, while negative, destructive thoughts are considered a distress. The focus when addressing your psychological stress is to first be aware of your thoughts and then to eliminate negative thoughts while increasing the frequency of your positive thoughts.
Expressing gratitude for your life and having an optimistic view of your life would be examples of eustress. Being proactive with your thoughts, setting goals, and maintaining focus on what you want to accomplish in your life will most likely have a positive impact on your life. Psychological eustress helps you stay excited and motivated each day.
Constantly focusing on things that are out of your control, thinking about things you don’t want in life, verbal abuse from others, and negative self-talk are all forms of mental stress. When you place blame, make excuses, or justify your thoughts or actions you are also experiencing a form of psychological distress. Unfortunately, most people would be amazed at the amount of distressing thoughts that they have on a daily basis.
Most negative or distressing thoughts are caused by faulty beliefs. When you think about how things should be, judge what happened in the past, or are frustrated with current events your beliefs don’t match up with reality. When your beliefs and reality aren’t congruent you will usually experience psychological distress. Rarely is it the actual circumstance that is creating the psychological distress, it is only your thoughts and beliefs. You can probably think of examples in your life, or others, where a similar circumstance wasn’t as stressful. What was the difference? Was it the actual circumstance or was it your thoughts, or some else’s that made the experience seem less stressful?
Any physical movement falls into the category of a physical stress. Walking, sitting, standing, exercising, or any other movement you do throughout the day. Even lying in bed sleeping can be considered a physical stress. Gravity is acting upon your body all day, everyday. Your physiology is constantly going through an adaptation process as a result of gravity’s affect on your body. Once you understand that every second of everyday you are subjected to physical stress, you need to become more aware of your posture and movement quality, to ensure you that you have the best chance of that stress being considered a eustress instead of a distress.
The first, and most important consideration to make when evaluating the physical stress within your life is to be aware of your posture and your general quality of movement. If you have relatively good posture and your body moves relatively efficiently, the physical stress your body experiences as a result of gravity will most likely be eustress, making your body stronger and more resilient. Your gait pattern while walking should be efficient without too many unnecessary movements or deviations.
After normal daily movement, the next thing to evaluate is any form of exercise that you do. To be considered a eustress, exercise should be timed so that you have almost completely recovered from the previous exercise session, and each session is neither too easy nor too strenuous. There is a lot of individuality with regards to exercise frequency, volume, and intensity, but you still need to understand the concept of physical stress and its impact on your body. Over time, you will hopefully gain increasing clarity and understanding of how to program your exercise so that you are experiencing just the right amount of additional physical stress.
Beyond frequency, volume, and intensity, your exercise selection and the technique of each exercise has to be just right, to ensure you are providing the right stimulus so that the physical stress is making your body stronger and more resilient. You need to make sure that your movements and exercise selection is also factoring the idea of structural balance, so that every movement, muscle, tendon, and other tissues throughout the body are balanced with regards to strength, stability, and range of motion.
The better you are able to balance all of these factors, creating as much beneficial eustress as possible, the better your body will feel and function. You will be free of aches and pains. Your body will be capable of performing whatever task you ask of it, at a moments notice. You will have the physical agility and athleticism of a child playing on a playground, without perceived limitations or concerns that you may hurt yourself.
Unfortunately, the above scenarios are rarely the case. Most people have poor posture because of bad habits, mental and/ or physical laziness, and potentially other factors. Most people’s daily movements are extremely inefficient and, in a lot of cases, damaging to the body. Even while asleep, the body ends up in positions that continually create unnecessary and imbalanced physical distress.
Next, the average person either exercises too little or too much. There is a common phenomenon where people will be relatively inactive for a long period of time, all of a sudden decide that they want to get in better shape, and then perform high intensity, high volume exercise, extremely frequently in an attempt to make up for lost time. Too little movement and your body atrophies. Too much movement and you don’t allow your body sufficient time to recover and repair, and you progressively break your body down until you become sick or injured.
The average person’s exercise selection is arbitrarily based upon what they read in an article, saw in a social media post, or on TV without understanding the rationale and merits of a particular exercise, especially relative to their goals at specific moment in time. Not only do they not think about, nor understand, why they are doing an exercise, in most cases the exercise is done with poor technique that is creating even more distress. In most cases, even the people performing the exercise on the internet are doing it with poor technique and are perpetuating bad habits and the creation of distress. Beyond all of that, the average person spends very little time thinking about the idea of structural balance and ensuring that the body is capable of moving in full ranges of motion, with sufficient strength and stability.
When you factor all of that physical distress, is it any wonder that the average person has aches and pains and that their bodies progressively degenerate until some serious physical ailment arises? Think of all of the hundreds, or thousands, of physical issues that would be considered chronic. All of those chronic physical issues are the result of days, months, and/ or years of physical distress. Beyond general physical degradation that comes with age, there is no reason your body should experience most of the physical issues that plague most people.