KEW Episode 73: What is Stress?

Ahh, stress, our bestest buddy. Our forever companion. The voice in our head telling us how much we suck. The ticking clock rushing us to work and home every day.

Yeah, you know what stress is, but what is it REALLY? And how can it be so many DIFFERENT things?

Can you define it if someone asks you? Beyond whatever it is in that particular moment that is bothering you? Like, generally, what is stress?

Well, Mirriam-Webster tell us (or we tell each other) that (and these are the definitions relevant to this discussion):

1: a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.

She uses meditation as a way of reducing/relieving stress.Hormones are released into the body in response to emotional stress.

He needs help with stress management. [=ways to deal with stress]

2: something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety

I’m sorry for being grumpy. I’ve been under (a lot of) stress at work lately.

She is dealing with the stresses of working full-time and going to school.He talked about the stresses and strains of owning a business.

Ok, so mental tension (something you feel) caused by problems like anxiety and worry.

Yeah, ok, that’s pretty close. But it’s also very general. And ambiguous.

And what generalizations and ambiguity suggest is that we don’t rally know. And I’m cool saying I don’t really know what stress is.

But I DO know what it feels like. Generally, anyway.

But I’ll also argue that defining stress is like defining pornography in that you know it when you see it. It’s hard to define exactly what it IS is difficult.

MOREOVER, this generalizing causes us to lose perspective because we LUMP everything BAD we feel into one big feeling we call STRESS.

And I would argue that we would, ideally, like to be more emotionally intelligent. Don’t we want to be able to deconstruct our feelings, use more accurate terminology, and better UNDERSTAND how we feel. And then, certainly, it follows that this would facilitate us being able to understand WHY it happens and HOW we can address it?

Because wouldn’t it be awesome to change things that negatively affect our lives like fear, feeling unsafe, anxiety, and limiting beliefs?

IN FACT, I’ll argue that being able to piece apart the monster we call stress is CRITICAL to us changing and growing away from the difficulties of life and more TOWARD the peaceful and calm experience many of us prefer.

In this Episode I try to take apart stress and give it better names and even talk a little bit about potential causes and solutions. Not to OMIT stress from our lives, but to change our relationship with it and help us understand what it is to be human. Hopefully just a little better. Or as Dan Harris says, 10% Happier.

Full audio download or please subscribe to the Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom podcast and get automatic downloads:

YouTube video can be found here:

And, please, take the time to review or comment, subscribe or follow, and share what you see and hear with your friends. It’s how we facilitate change.

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