According to The American Institute of Stress, an estimated 75% to 90% of visits to primary-care physicians are for stress-related complaints.
Not only that, but in the United States alone, nearly $17.2 billion worth of antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs are spent each year. That’s $17.2 billion that could have been used to build new schools and hospitals, provide clean water, grow food and build housing for millions of people across the globe!
It’s all very absurd.
As a professional coach, I spend my days having conversations with people from all walks of life about what they want deep inside their hearts and all the obstacles that stand in their way. And one thing I’ve learned in the five years that I’ve been coaching is that there’s a clear distinction between two kinds of stress which modern-day scientists now call: ‘Distress‘ and ‘Eustress‘.
Distress is the “most popular” kind of stress we normally refer to when we say, “I’m totally stressed-out.” This kind of ‘negative’ stress contains feelings of physical or psychological over stimulation which causes a sense of oppression and creates physical, mental, and emotional imbalances.
Research has shown that in our modern society, the #1 cause of distress is the “feeling” of not having enough time complete a project, create money, and having many ‘incomplete’ or open projects with long to-do lists. Notice that the cause of stress is not the time, but the actual feeling.
Eustress, however, is the kind of stress often experienced when you are confronted with a demanding or challenging situation or task which you know you’re capable of handling, but will require you to develop new skills, habits, behaviors or attitudes to succeed.
This positive kind of stress contains feelings of physical or psychological arousal and a sense of eagerness to welcome the upcoming adversity or difficulty. This type of stress makes you grow, and feel truly alive, the way you feel when you’re playing a game. This is the same kind of stress author Stephen Covey referred to when he said,
“Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition – such as lifting weights – we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.”
How can you tell if the stress you’re experiencing is distress or eustress?
Why? For the same reason one kid loves to ride a roller-coaster over and over, while another kid will get sick just stepping on it. It’s the same roller-coaster, right? But each kid perceives it completely different. To the first, it is a challenge that makes him feel alive. To the other, it’s something that could cause his death!
My point is, it is your perception and response to your current situation that’s causing you the stress. Not the situation by itself. As Dr. Davis Hawkins said, “the source of stress is within”. Therefore, stress is in the eyes of the beholder.