We humans need some stress in our lives to keep us motivated and moving forward. Too much stress, however, and we go head-first into drama and overwhelm. It is possible to arrive at a balance between excitement and overwhelm—what we call your “stress sweet spot.”
If stress is too low and doesn’t cause a reaction, you may feel bored, turned-off and low energy (result: couch potato and binging on TV). If the stress is too high or lasts too long, you will eventually breakdown, your creativity may diminish, and a persistent anxiety and worry may take you over (result: “zone out” and binge on TV). The results of too little or too much stress often lead to the same results. Neither extreme nurtures your Creator essence.
If you can live more often in your stress sweet space it will make a huge difference in your life. When you hit a rough road, you will recover faster because you have built your capacity to be in a balanced relationship with stress. And that’s the trick—finding the right balance.
Staying balanced used to be easier when life was simpler. Donna grew up in a small town in the Midwest where her family owned a small retail store. She remembers her parents opening and closing the store at the same time six days a week. Her dad waited on customers and her mom kept the books and made bank deposits. They worked very hard and faced the ups and downs of being sole business owners. Yet, life was rather predictable and they could count on a structured routine that supported them when they hit stressful times.
Life is a lot different today. If you are like most people, you receive over 1,000 bits of information a day from constant emails, conversations, phone calls, Instagram, Facebook, and “breaking news!” flashes all vying for your attention.
Your mind and body were not built for today’s level of complexity and rapid-fire information. This means you must be highly self-aware and truthful about how you are relating to today’s stressful realities.
We both have had our turns at being overwhelmed with stress and waking in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, and then being short tempered and exhausted the next day. We reached a point where we had to pause and carefully examine how we relate to stress.
We decided that we could shift how we were focusing on stress (this point comes from David’s 1st Vital Question in his new book which is: Where are you placing your focus?) We could see stress as a problem to react to or as part of the process of creating passionately held outcomes.
By changing our “stress story,” we began to use different language when talking about it. Instead of telling people how busy we were and complaining about the stress it caused, we now say: “We are very busy, but we are handling the pace. We’re enjoying our work and are grateful for our partnership.” Shifting to an Outcome Orientation and speaking positively about the pressure we used to complain about actually reduced our stress.
If you are feeling victimized by how you relate to stress, pause, take a deep breath, and focus on what you care about that the stress is related to. That will shift your mindset and the way you are thinking about the stress. By doing so, you will increase your capacity to see the stress and choose how you wish to respond.
Over time, you will find your “stress sweet spot” in which you may still have your stress—but it doesn’t have you.