It turns out Goldilocks (yes, that little girl with blonde hair parading around a bear’s house, testing out the food and beds to find out what worked for her) is a Principle, where one knows when something is either too much or too little. So, let’s take work as an example. Many of us are either suffering from too much stress (e.g., working from the kitchen table with myriad distractions) or too little of it (not working, period, and killing your will to live while doom scrolling). The solution? Finding the “just-right” amount of stress.
“WTF would I want any stress at all?!” you might ask. To answer that, let’s first look at what it is and what it’s intended to do for us.
Moving into the modern age, work (or lack thereof) serves as a perfect example to discuss how much stress is just right, especially right now, when many people are constantly managing disproportionate stressors.
If you don’t have enough stress – when you’re not working, stuck in a job you don’t like, or you don’t have any meaningful goals to deliver, you run the risk of “bore out” or “rust out” – a “too little” phenomenon where you feel uninspired, unmotivated, and apathetic. Let’s face it – humans were not designed to do nothing. We’re meant to be active, engaged, and have purpose.
On the other side of the curve is burnout. We grew up in an overloaded culture, where “keeping busy” is a badge of honour. We hustle to make money and keep up with the Joneses. But there is a point where the pressure becomes “too much,” and we risk burnout, a serious state of long-term stress where we spend too long in the evolutionary flight-or-fight response, eventually hitting physical and mental breakdown. While we’re meant to stay active, we are not designed to produce 24/7.
The risk of living on either side of this spectrum for too long is a slew of negative physical, mental and behavioural responses, and eventually, maybe even depression or anxiety.source.
We’ve talked about the negative extremes of stress – having too little or too much – but what is the stress sweet spot, that “just right” amount? Otherwise known as eustress, it’s a positive stress response that releases chemicals into the body and produces positive feelings. Having just the right amount of stress makes you feel inspired, content, motivated and excited. This is the stuff that gets you jacked up, in a good way.
The problem with discerning what gives you eustress versus distress is that it’s based on your perception, not the event itself. What one person finds to be positive stress – that feeling of excitement before going on stage; another will find to be negative stress – the dread of public speaking.
Goldilocks, like our cavemen ancestors, existed in a binary world. Their decisions were motivated by comfort (or, for cavemen, what we call homeostasis, aka stability). Our lives are significantly more complicated: factor in family and childhood history, multiply by mortgage payments and divide by demanding bosses…what we’re saying is, if you are starting to notice the impacts of chronic stress or rust out, it doesn’t hurt to ask for help to sort it all out.
Manifest can help you deal with the stress specific to you in your life by analyzing your situation, providing you with an action plan to deal with controllable stress, and building up your resiliency to change your perceptions around uncontrollable stress. Here are some of the ways we do that:
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