The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. – William James
Last week I mentioned the remodeling project we have in progress.
If you have lived through and lived in a remodeling project you know there’s just no easy way to get from here to there. This project – like so much of life – is about making change.
This task has reminded me of life in relationship to the “stress” of having so many people involved in the success of the project. Better said, having to “rely upon” others to do what they said they would do.
The Benefits of Stress
Our body is designed to handle stress efficiently and effectively. Who doesn’t want support for making decisions, more energy, and physical strength? As The American Institute of Stress points out the body is quick to support our safety when we are threatened.
- Heart rate and blood pressure soar to increase blood flow to the brain
- Blood sugar rises to furnish the fuel for power output
- Blood flow is shunted from the gut to the large muscles for additional strength, speed
- Clotting occurs more quickly in case of injury to limit blood loss
This was great news for our ancestors.
The Dangerous Side
Henry Kissinger is quoted to have said, “There cannot be a stressful crisis next week. My schedule is already full.” You see where this is going, right?
Why is UN-necessary stress dangerous and identified as “America’s No. 1 Health Problem”?
Contemporary stress tends to be more pervasive, persistent and insidious because it stems primarily from psychological than physical threats.
…the nature of stress for modern man is not an occasional confrontation with a saber-toothed tiger or a hostile warrior but rather a host of emotional threats like getting stuck in traffic and fights with customers, co-workers, or family members that often occur several times a day. Unfortunately, our bodies still react with these same, archaic fight or flight responses that are now not only not useful but potentially damaging and deadly. Repeatedly invoked, it is not hard to see how they can contribute to hypertension, strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, ulcers, neck or low back pain and other “Diseases of Civilization”.
More bad news for our times and health…
Many of these effects are due to increased sympathetic nervous system activity and an outpouring of adrenaline, cortisol and other stress-related hormones. Certain types of chronic and more insidious stress due to loneliness, poverty, bereavement, depression and frustration due to discrimination are associated with impaired immune system resistance to viral linked disorders ranging from the common cold and herpes to AIDS and cancer. Stress can have effects on other hormones, brain neurotransmitters, additional small chemical messengers elsewhere, prostaglandins, as well as crucial enzyme systems, and metabolic activities that are still unknown. Research in these areas may help to explain how stress can contribute to depression, anxiety and its diverse effects on the gastrointestinal tract, skin and other organs.
The Simple Solution
Okay, we both know there is no simple solution. However, the helpful thing I found myself doing during this remodel project when it was NOT going the way I expected was this …
Let it go.
Will my life be harmed if the plumber is late and creates a domino effect with the other contractors? No, it is not life threatening.
Let it go.
Now, the question can be asked: How do we move forward?
Once we let it go the choice not to fight, not to run can be made. When we make the choice to stay and engage solutions and helpful decision making can be pursued.
Have I lessened my stress? Yes. Now, I may show up better (improved performance) and live longer as I make this simple solution a habit.
Let’s see, I could create a flow chart to add to my coaching tools. Or, I could write another page outlining stress relievers. For sure, I could be anxious about what I think you think of my “simple solution”…but, that would create unnecessary stress so I choose to let it go.
When will you practice with me?
Let it go.
Please forward to a friend or colleague.
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