– A Short Primer –
by Anthony Dallmann-Jones, PhD – “Dr. DJ”
Very few people know what stress is. Which is ironic, because you frequently hear people saying, “I am so stressed out!” Perhaps you have said that? But if someone came up to you and said, “Oh, if you have so much stress you must know what it is, so define it for me, please.” In response to this request, you might find yourself hemming and hawing and saying things like “Well, you know – money problems, kids, my job, being too busy.” Right? Would you believe none of those are, technically speaking, “stress”? If you are to do anything about your stress it would be reasonable for you to first know exactly what it is, agree?
What IS stress?
First, let us do some defining. It will help clear up a lot of things.
A stressor is anything – any occurrence (good or bad) – that shoves you toward needing to react to it, and possibly make an adjustment. Adjust to what? See below.
Stress is the reaction, or resistance thereof, to a stressor.
If you are going to worry about anything, it is distress. We all have stress, because it is part of life. All living beings have stress, but those who know how to effectively deal with it minimize the occurrence of distress, which is damage to the system. What system? Take your pick, because you are several systems and each of us can vary as to which system is impacted the most in reaction to a stressor. Respiratory, digestive, neurological, muscular, skin, lymphatic, excretory, circulatory, etc. Distress, or damage, comes about usually through remaining in, or unhealthfully handling, our reactions to stressors.
Stress management is on an intriguing scale from:
Effective <———–> Ineffective <———–> Destructive
Effective: Adept and supplied with many tools and skills to quickly adjust to stressors.
Ineffective: Ignorance or neglectful of what is the best thing to do in adjusting. Prolonged ineffectiveness usually converts into the destructive results.
Destructive: Bad habits, suicidal ideations, mistaken and misguided chronic patterns of dealing with stressors.
Roughly, about 95 percent or more (certainly not less) of the United States population – one of the most advanced in the world – does not know these things…and, not only that, but usually remains somewhere between Ineffective <———–> Destructive
Where are you today on this scale? Where do you want to be in the future? – These are the two questions that MUST be answered for progressive movement towards a stress-free life.*
Homeostasis: Balance is the natural order of things. It is being awake, aware, and on the “balls of one’s feet,” relaxed, yet ready, for anything. Homeostasis is the dynamic that keeps one in balance. This diagram shows it quite well. This happens to you MANY times a day.
Now you know more about what stress is and how it works than 95+ percent of the population!
Are you eager to be part of the few who know HOW to stay healthy and balanced in a “stressful world”?
Are you very concerned about stress in your personal or professional life? Then take action and start by looking for stress books on Amazon, such as KILL STRESS BEFORE IT KILLS YOU by Anthony Dallmann-Jones on Amazon.com. This is hardly the only book on the topic. There are many such books, articles, Youtube videos, and stress consultants, but what is important is that you decide to learn more, and then implement suggested strategies until you find the ones that work best for you.
*Technically, only one segment of the population has a 100% stress-free life. We call them “cadavers.” Having a Stress-Free Life is the goal, continually moving in that direction – relentlessly and determined to know as much as possible about how to “handle life” in such a way as to enjoy it more and more and experience distress less and less. If we do become 100% stress free, it is usually only for a few minutes (or we have joined that other segment), but we still should strive for that state of being, because we are happier and healthier just being close to the goal of being stress-free.
Dr. Anthony Dallmann-Jones is Director of, and professor in, the At-Risk and Alternative Education Program at Marian University in Wisconsin. He is author of 14 books and speaks around the world on human interest topics. His blog, DoctorZest.com, is centered on intimate, family, social, and career relationships, and dealing effectively with the stress that naturally occurs in them. He has offices in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and Panama City Beach, Florida.