Even though I feel really excited about this topic and especially about how I’m going to address it I also feel nervous to start this entry.  I know that I have to communicate as clearly as possible because I am going to be touching on subjects and discussing things that can be hot button topics for some.  The potential that I will be misunderstood is high.

I want to be very (excruciating) clear in my introduction to this topic:  I am not judging you.  I do not think that I am better than you, that I live my life in a better way or that your ways of doing things are subpar.  I am however going to be explaining ways of thinking and doing that have been incredibly helpful to me and allowed me to make a lot of personal growth in a short period of time.  If you feel yourself having a very strong reaction to what I am expressing I request that you remind yourself that I am sharing this because I believe it could potentially be helpful, that I am not criticizing you and if you are able to, keep an open mind.  I also am planning on making myself very vulnerable in what I am sharing in this entry and I hope you can take that for what it is, one person’s experiences and the wisdom they have gained from that.

This entry is a continuation of a previous post where I introduced ideas about stress, how stress can either promote or deter positive adaptations and a brief overview of the difference between stress reduction and stress management.  I ended the previous post by stating that, “… what I am suggesting is that we broaden our focus from reacting to external sources of stress to include proactive ways of embracing our internal power to manage stress.”

First I want to re-state something that is central to the ideas that I am about to expound, and that is that stress is truly neither “good” or “bad.”  It is the amount of stress and the intersection of amount and effectiveness of recovery that determine whether the outcome of exposure to stress results in something we want or don’t want.

(As an aside, I must mention that perception can have a lot to do with our reaction to stress and that is something I will be writing about for a follow-up post to this one, so stay tuned!)

When you ask someone to list sources of stress the most common are: job, school or relationship (including family) related stressors, health related stressors, emotional stress, lack of sleep or poor sleep quality, food quantity or quality related stress, exercise and movement quantity and quality related stress and lack of sufficient recovery time or poor recovery methods.  I have a few other things that I include in that list that are not what would be traditionally thought of as contributing to either high or low stress.  Those factors are:  mindfulness, mindset, self-identity and personal responsibility.  These concepts can be both tools to manage stress or, in their absence or misapplication, contributing factors to higher stress levels.  All four of these share some overlaps and can have interactions and relationships with each other.

I’d like to briefly address these one-by-one, starting with mindfulness.  (If you’d like to read this whole post, clickhere to be taken to the breakdown of mindfulness, mindset and self-identitity.  A link will be provided at the end of the entry to take you to part III.  However, if you, like me, eat the middles out of your Oreos and throw the cookie away for being a waste of time you can just keep reading by clicking here.  Just click once!  No need to be impatient!  Here, have an Oreo, I already peeled it for you and everything.)

Elias Gross