Hi Team,

To me it feels like stress is almost always present in my current day to day life. However, by developing a deeper understanding about stress I have become more accepting and comfortable with this constant pressure. I have also come to understand how stress can actually be beneficial in life. In this email I will outline some of the things I have learnt about stress and how we can all benefit from it.

In psychology It is widely accepted that there are three different types of stress.

  1. Acute stress is the most common form of stress that is a short-term response to a specific pressure or demand from a recent event or something that is likely to occur in the near future. Everyone experiences acute stress from time to time and it can sometimes be felt as exciting or thrilling in small doses. Acute stress rarely has any detrimental effect on the mind or body.
  2. Episodic stress, if you experience acute stress frequently over a longer period it becomes episodic stress. People with "type A personalities" or people that "worry a lot" are more prone to suffer from episodic stress and a tell tail sign is that they go from one crisis to the next and live a very chaotic life. 
  3. Chronic stress is prolonged constant stress experienced over a longer period of time, i.e. several months or years. This is the grinding stress that wears you down and it is the most damaging form of stress for your mind and body. Without psychological help chronic stress can develop into depression and self-destructive behaviour.

In last week’s email I outlined that stress and anxiety are the body’s natural response to challenging or scary situations and that stress can actually be beneficial to how we react and cope with adversity. Another positive side effect of mild stress is that it can make you more social. When you are under stress you are more vulnerable and more open to connecting with others. You are also more likely to reach out to others and to ask for help. This is especially evident during times of crisis, when although highly stressful, these critical times in life are also times of greater caring and resilience.

"Rule number one is, don't sweat the small stuff.
Rule number two is, it's all small stuff." 
Robert Eliot

Kelly McGonigal in her book "The Upside of Stress" outlined three ways that you can make to most of a stressful situation.

  • Acknowledge when you are feeling stressed. Take note of the stress you are feeling and how it is making you feel and affecting your mood and behaviour. Being aware of how you respond to stress is critical to working through it and coming out the other side.
  • Be okay with the stress. Remember you only feel stress when it involves something you care about. It helps to be aware of why the thing causing you stress really matters to you, because if it doesn't then there is nothing to be stressed about.
  • Make use of the energy. Stress gives you energy and motivates you to take action. Taking positive action in a stressful situation takes real courage but is also likely to be very positive and to move you towards achieving your goals. The stress you often feel is because you are outside your comfort zone, which is where you need to be to make a difference and achieve something worthwhile.

Thanks for reading,
Stay safe and don't sweat the small stuff!

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