Good Stress? Eustress!

We talk about stress all the time like it’s a bad thing, but it’s also a bad thing to have too little stress. Bernie Clark, a yoga instructor and author, talks about the good kinds of stress we actually need.  Need stress?  Why?

If you’ve ever had the experience of breaking a bone or tearing a muscle, the initial solution is immobilization and rest.  Then what happens once the cast, brace or rest is over?  The joint or appendage is moved for the first time in awhile, and how does that feel?  It hurts!  And it’s really weak as well.  The worst thing we can do to seniors is to put them into hospitals for extended rest.  What used to result in a week or more of bedrest, from open heart surgery to childbirth,is now a wham bam and get on your feet and get moving as soon as  possible!  Sure, this is  influenced by how much this all costs, but it’s also better for your recovery to move and stay moving as much as possible.

This is another reason physical therapy instead of surgery is often a preferred way to proceed now.  Often surgery can be almost indefinitely postponed with the right exercise prescribed by a knowledgeable provider.  Or water therapy.  Or yoga.  You work on strengthening and supporting opposing muscles which reduced the pressure and pain on the affected area.  I just spent a few months having therapy and trigger point injections for chronic tension between my shoulders.  I thought I would give it a try.  But the yoga I’ve done forever was just as helpful for keeping the discomfort manageable, and for now I will save my money.

My girlfriend had a bad labrum tear which is a tear in the hip area, and very painful.  She was recommended to have surgery from more than one provider.  She never did it, and now can walk much better again and put off the surgery and has for over a year.  There are many good kinds of stress. Stress is not bad, it’s just telling you something.  Maybe it’s telling you to leave.  Maybe it’s telling you to rest.  Maybe it’s telling you to try something different from what you’re doing.  Stress can be a helpful thing.  Figure out what it’s telling you.

Many of the people who can have excessive stress are people who’ve never been exposed to it growing up or who have had too much growing up.  I worry alot about the parents who are taking their kids out of school to reduce their exposure to the world.  They are protecting their children, that’s true.  But they are also producing adults who may never be able to survive in the world as well.  Balancing the right amount of stress that is managable is the challenge.  The world is a hard place, and growing up is hard.  You have to have exposure to develop mastery.

The next time you feel “stressed” try to remember and differentiate between the good and the bad stress.  Often it is the “bad” stress that makes us stronger, and if we never have exposure to it. we never figure out how to survive it.  We need to work these mental muscles to figure out how to do just that.   Afterwards, you can feel a sense of accomplish as well as relief.  You’ve just made those mental muscles stronger and that will serve you in your future.

 

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Good Stress? Eustress!

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