Definition: able to maintain stability when faced with the state of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors tending to alter an existent equilibrium; emotional flexibility
Balancing Qualities: Clarity, Relaxation, Understanding
The mind can go either direction under stress – toward positive or toward negative: on or off. Think of it as a spectrum whose extremes are unconsciousness at the negative end and hyperconsciousness at the positive end. The way the mind will lean under stress is strongly influenced by training. — Frank Herbert (1920-1986) Dune
1. Know your life goals. Concentrate on what is worth being, rather than what is worth having.
2. Stop measuring your life in quantities and begin to think in terms of qualities.
3. Cut back on the “I’ve got to do everything” idea – delegate.
4. Spend some quiet time to read; stare into space.
5. Cultivate a deep friendship.
— Jane Brody (1941 -) Type “A” Behavior: Don’t Rush Your Life Away
Note: Brody also advises that we cure “hurry sickness” and conquer hostility.
• Exercise helps create stress hardiness – all kinds of exercise: physical, emotional (friendship), psychological (reflecting), and spiritual (meditation).
• All qualities are progressive. Compare a current concern to a previous one. Earlier you would have folded, but now it is less of a big deal. It used to be heavy, but now you take it in stride.
• If you are escaping your stress with drugs or alcohol, you are doing so to relax and forget. But you should know your shortcut does not work in the long run. The next time you reach for the temporary solution, do something to move onto a healthier path.
• There is hard stress and soft stress. What is soft stress to one could be hard stress to another. But you know what you are capable of without too much trouble; and you know what really gets to you. Usually what you think will be hard stress is not too bad once you get into it. Anticipated difficulty is most often worse than the real thing. Soft stress is necessary in developing your quality of stress hardiness. Hard stresses you survive will eventually be good for you too.
• There are real-life examples of positive qualities under very stressful extremes. Studies done on prisoners of war show the survivors are the people who are the most flexible – people who can assess the situation, eat whatever is available, and do whatever is necessary. The question is where to draw the line. If the decision is survival at all costs, then is it okay to betray your comrades. The situation dictates the extremes, but the individual dictates the boundaries. This internal/external combination governs whether a normally positive quality is negative, or a normally negative quality is positive.
• In order to measure your individual level of stress hardiness, you need to stare at the edge. The situation can be accumulative, a build-up of stress; something relatively minor could push you over that edge. On the other hand, if you’re well rested, have a good self-image, are chemically balanced, healthy, and mature, you may be able to handle even a major blow smoothly.
• No one can avoid the difficulties and stresses of life. Nonetheless stress should be managed so you do not get too overwhelmed. Stress, to a greater or lesser degree, is exhilarating and a major player in positive growth. If something is difficult but you are coping, even if you are out of your depth, you are discovering your stress threshold. As you grow, this threshold changes – it expands.
• If you are faced with stress beyond your ability, you have no choice but to discover some way to deal with it. You will find you do have some methods. Note what they are and use them to your advantage – even if you dislike them. Until you learn something differently, these methods are all you’ve got. Keep your eyes open and your options varied.
• Forgiveness induces stress hardiness. Somebody being a jerk provokes stress. The greater ability you have to forgive them, the less stress you will feel. If the person is behaving wrongly toward you on purpose, remove yourself from the situation or confront them directly, maybe even legally.
• If your reactions are limited to your defense mechanisms, you are almost required to follow those patterns in nearly all conditions. But if you have an abundance of options to choose from, you can respond more appropriately to individual situations. In order for these multiple options to be of any use, you should develop the presence of mind to choose an alternate action in that crucial split second before your automatic response triggers itself. Expand your repertoire.
Stress Inducers: blame, cruelty, deadlines, fear, guilt, holding grudges, being overwhelmed, pet peeves, pressure (internal or external), regret, resentment, and worry
Stress Reducers: acceptance of people and situations, association with a loyal pet, balance between work and relaxation, creativity, deep breathing, entertainment, exercise, friendliness, goal accomplishment, healthy diet, laughter, love, massage, meditation, musical appreciation, playfulness, positive attitude, REM sleep, removing yourself from the presence of stress, rewarding yourself for progress, romance, sensitive touch, sex, stimulating conversation, stretching, and varying your routine
• The more control you have the more power you feel.
• Stress-hardy people like a challenge and view difficulty as opportunity.
• Negative stress can be flipped to positive stress when you realize the growth value inherent in the turmoil.
• If you have a noble reason for doing what you’re doing, you will be highly motivated. Stress, then, becomes more acceptable. Committed people do what they like to do, and do something about the stress they experience.
Symbol: water off a duck’s back