14/10/2013 06:37 BST | Updated 27/11/2013 05:12 GMT

Bring on the Stress Baby!


Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict. -

William Ellery Channing

Learn the pleasure of STRESS!

If you're like most people in the modern world, there are probably several times during the week that you feel overwhelmed. Overall, modern life is STRESSFUL. With a "to-do" list that never ends, bills to pay and kids to taxi around, it can all get too much!

Overall, stress has got a bad reputation. For good reason, as it can have damaging side effects. When we are stressed-out and overwhelmed our body creates toxic hormones, such as cortisol and norepinephrine. These hormones act by mobilizing energy from storage to muscles, increasing heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate and shutting down metabolic processes such as digestion, reproduction, growth and immunity.

If we have on-going stress, we can "over-dose" on these hormones which will lead to the following

• Chronic fatigue and tiredness

• Increased blood pressure

• Irregular menstrual cycles in women

• Digestive ulcers

• Stunted growth

• Imbalance of our sex hormones causing erectile dysfunction in men

• Decreased immune system.

It's understandable why many people believe that if they can eliminate all of the stress in their lives, they'll be happier and healthier.

It sounds logical enough. Stress is unpleasant. Doing unpleasant things makes us unhappy. Ipso facto, stress makes us unhappy.

But the truth is, we need some stress in our lives. Overcoming challenges is what gives us the sense of achievement and confidence we need to keep achieving more and more. If you are completely honest with yourself, you would probably be dead bored if you didn't have any stress at all.

However, there are 2 types of stress according to the well respected endocrinologist Hans Selye. Eu-stress is good healthy stress, such as exercise, mental challenge and exciting goals. He calls damaging stress, distress, for it's detrimental effects on our body due to the release of cortisol. Distress is what we experience when we over commit ourselves, work in a job we hate or miss an airplane. As a scientist, Seyle found that eustress helps us grow. As a preacher, William Channing says conflict is good for our soul.

It's like eating healthy. Sometimes, you need to eat things because they're good for you, even if you don't like them. We need some bitter and sour in our lives. It's the same with doing difficult things. There is nothing more stimulating that a great challenge in your life that you have overcome with persistence, wisdom and hard work. Good stress adds richness, joy and fulfillment to our life experience.

Don't make it your goal to remove all stress from your life. But DO create healthy habits for reducing the build up of toxic stress in your life. Regular exercise and meditation can do wonders for that. Look for exciting, challenges that help you to grow and evolve and learn how to thrive on eu-stress instead. Turn some of that adrenaline to your advantage and redirect that nervous energy to good use.

Dr. Michelle Nielsen

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