What is Stress, Part 2

By LeAnna J. Carey | Mar 23, 2012

What is Stress, Part 2

William James said, "The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another."  In our last post, we addressed the impact that stress has on the body and unhealthy stress relievers.  Few are immune to the uncontrolled events of the economy, demands in the work place, and uncertainty about the future.  In fact, according to Dr. Dexter Shurney, scientists are finding that "it is often the inability to take action, or a sense of helplessness that infuses even more stress."  Mastering how we handle stress is a key ingredient to our quality of life. Can you look back on this past week and point to where you took action on something that is causing you stress?

It is important to believe that you can master how you approach stress.  In Albert Bandura's book, Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control, he states that, "people's beliefs in their capabilities to produce desired effects by their own actions," points to his theory that our beliefs are an important determination of how we persevere in the face of challenges or under certain conditions.  Learning and applying skills on how to approach stress intentionally is a habit that is developed over time and a result of how knowledge plays a key role in not limiting our own internal resources.    

Begin by assessing what your normal reaction is when you are thrown a curve ball - be honest, do you fall into negative thinking?  This is a learned behavior that can be replaced with more positive and healthy thinking.  Dr. Virginia Gurley explains that, "contrary to the myth that your brain stops developing after childhood, your brain continues to grow, change and develop throughout life.  This is called neural plasticity, and brain researchers are finding that neural plasticity can change how we react to pain, stressful events and unhealthy coping habits."   

To tackle the next stress curve ball head on, Dr. Dexter Shurney recommends the following tips, what he refers to as the Perfect 7 to help overcoming stress:

  1. Don't ignore the stressor - instead take action.
  2. Plan appropriately, but do not worry about things you cannot change.
  3. Strive for purposeful fulfilling life.  Find an avocation, or volunteer at something that provides greater purpose in life.
  4. Spend time (not money) on relationships and experiences.
  5. Adopt an attitude of giving.
  6. Adopt an attitude of forgiveness.
  7. Adopt an attitude of gratitude. 

Daniel Goleman, reasons that temperament is not destiny.  So, try this exercise that Dr. Shurney throws out as a challenge - to master negative feelings set aside any negative thoughts for anyone for an entire week! Go for it!  

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