Stress Is What You Think It Is!

Having been diagnosed with accumulated stress disorder in 1995 (I am okay now just in case you are wondering/worried/afraid) I set out to find out what it was that caused my 'disorder'. Who was responsible for doing this to me and how can I stop them from doing it to others?

Turns out is all in my head. What, you mean I did this to myself? How could that be? American philosopher and psychologist William James (died in 1910) knew this, he said "The greatest weapon against stress is the ability to choose one thought over another". 

If you think that you are stressed you are, or soon will be if you keep thinking that way. A good way to look at things is to determine the difference between pressure and stress. 

Pressure - This is what is imposed on us - deadlines, commitments, heavy workload, and lots to do.

Stress - The way that we react to pressure. Importantly, the way we think about pressure.

Here's another way of explaining it. You may be sitting in a meeting, watching a boring presentation, (not one of mine of course) sitting at your desk, or doing something that you aren't enjoying. Your brain wonders off and you all of a sudden you start thinking about something enjoyable coming up later that day or later in the week. You may even think back to a past holiday that you enjoyed.

Instantly your mood lifts, you feel invigorated, and your mind comes back to the present and you are re-engaged in the meeting, presentation or your work. What's changed around you, nothing. What’s changed inside you, everything. 

You are as stressed as you think you are. A lot of this stuff has to do with your attitude and perspective. It's how we look at things, with a positive mood or a negative one. Change your thoughts to positive ones and your mood will lift. It is really that simple for most of us.

There are exceptions of course, sometimes stress is due to a chemical imbalance or some other internal anomaly. But generally, stress comes from our personal viewpoint. I wish that someone had told me this in 1998!

Tomorrow I will offer more suggestions on changing your perspective and maybe later in the week on how to reduce pressure.