“What would you think if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me? Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song, and I’ll try not to sing out of key. I get by with a little help from my friends, I get high with a little help from my friends, gonna try with a little help from my friends.” The Beatles

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Healthy, constructive stress is like a friend who gives you perspective and focus while shining a light on the your strengths, perseverance and vision. This friend reminds you “Keep going, you will get through this, you can do it.” You walk away from the interaction feeling a renewed sense of clarity and possibility.

Damaging destructive stress is the frenemy who smiles (or maybe it’s actually a sneer) and reminds you “Don’t to sparkle too much, dream too big or live life out loud because it isn’t safe, people may judge or laugh. You could fail.” You walk away from the interaction feeling defeated, powerless and small.

Your mind is a messy interplay of thoughts, feelings and actions. You can’t control the thoughts that pop into your head or the subsequent emotions that lift you up or tear you down. You can, however, improve your awareness of both constructive and destructive thoughts and the emotions that follow.

Your Friend (Constructive Healthy Stress) helps you:

  • Focuses on solutions to problems you control
  • Sees problems and life as it is
  • Be mind full and effective in the present moment
  • Prioritize solvable problems
  • Motivates you to take action and get stuff done
  • Recognize that you care about the outcome of the stressor
  • View stress is an uncomfortable feeling
  • Pursue hopes and dreams
  • See the importance of time to recover and recharge

The Frenemy (Destructive Damaging Stress) limits you by:

  • Perseverating on problems outside your control
  • Agonizing over problems and life as unfair, unequal, and not right
  • Focusing on the “what-if’s and worst-case scenario’s of the future
  • Assigning #1 urgency to everything on your to-do list
  • Keeping you stuck and afraid to take action.
  • Making you feel angry, bitter and resentful
  • Convincing you that the situation is life or death
  • Persuading you to think that you are ok if everything goes according to plan
  • Postponing recovery/recharge time until everything is settled

Next help move toward constructive, healthy stress by asking yourself these THREE questions:

  1. Is the problem I am stressing over something I can control?
  2. Is continuing to stress about this problem moving me toward taking deliberate action to fix the problem?
  3. What action can I take right now (that IS in my control) toward solving the problem?