Secrets About Stress

– By Sharon Ashton and Raksha Dave-Gates (Counselling Psychologists)

With the arrival of summer, many Calgarians look forward to slipping into a vacation mode and easing up on the hectic pace they have maintained over the past six to nine months. There is no doubt that summer brings a lot of welcome change. Our children are home from school. Family vacations are often planned during July and August – this leads to lighter traffic patterns for those at home who are traveling to work. Many take advantage of the great weather and increase their physical activity levels by hiking, cycling, golfing, or enjoying other outdoor activities.

We don’t often think of welcome or exhilarating events, as being stressful – yet they can be. By definition, stress is any demand for change and it may be either positive or negative in nature. We experience the positive, “eustress,” whenever we integrate excitement, challenge, and pleasurable experiences like humor, play, recreation, relaxation, and enjoyment into our lives. Negative stress, or distress, develops when we are faced with challenges that seem to be quite threatening, dangerous, difficult, or “unfair” and when we are afraid that we cannot cope using the resources available to us. It is interesting to note that desirable life-changing events like moving to a new home, school, or job, getting married, finishing university, taking a vacation, or accomplishing a major achievement can have a surprising negative stress impact. Change creates uncertainty and individuals vary in their ability to adapt to the unknown.

Take a few moments while you are relaxing over the summer, to reflect about the changes you have experienced during the past year. As you do this, you may be surprised at the number of changes that have occurred during this time. It will be more meaningful if you write down each important change and think what each has meant to you. Notice the feelings you experience as you consider each one. Then look ahead to any changes you expect in the months to come and plan how you will cope with or manage each of these. What resources can you identify that you will use to manage each change? Don’t forget support that you could be available if needed from close friends, colleagues, and family. As you prepare for change, be aware of aspects of the events that you can control and of those that you cannot control. Whenever possible, know that you can choose to take on change that will enhance your life and choose to let other “opportunities” pass you by when they will add unnecessary stress. A simpler life is a less stressful life. As Toa Te Ching wrote:

To attain knowledge,add things every day.
To attain wisdom, remove things every day.

For additional information on managing stress follow the links at click on the following links: