How Stress Can Fuel Your Evo­lu­tion

Trillions - - In This Issue - By Dr. Chance T. Ea­ton

As we shift our fo­cus onto a new year, I find my­self re­flect­ing on 2016 and what ma­jor lessons and ex­pe­ri­ences arose. With­out a doubt I can say that stress was a def­i­nite theme for many of my col­leagues, close friends and my­self. The world con­tin­ues to get busier as we work to un­der­stand ex­pand­ing amounts of data and in­for­ma­tion, strive for greater work ef­fi­cien­cies and adapt to an ever-chang­ing mar­ket en­vi­ron­ment.

I, like most peo­ple on this planet, have had my fair share of chal­leng­ing life sit­u­a­tions. Some of them are nat­u­ral oc­cur­rences that arise out of prob­a­bil­ity, while some are of our own do­ing. Some are quick but pow­er­ful in im­pact; some are slow but pow­er­ful in the ac­cu­mu­lat­ing dull ache. The one les­son I can take away from all of my life chal­lenges, self-ex­plo­ration and study is that stress is a beau­ti­ful thing!

If we don’t un­der­stand what stress is or how to man­age it, it can be ex­pen­sive and dan­ger­ous. By def­i­ni­tion, stress is the re­sult of an im­bal­ance be­tween our re­sources (mo­ti­va­tors that stim­u­late growth and de­vel­op­ment) and stres­sors (pres­sures and de­mands from the ex­ter­nal en­vi­ron­ment). Any time de­mands or pres­sures are higher than we are able to man­age they begin to take a toll on our sys­tems.

The rea­son stress is good for us is that it has kept us alive for hun­dreds of thou­sands of years. Imag­ine our an­ces­tors, years ago, liv­ing in prim­i­tive con-

di­tions. Early life con­tained low lev­els of com­plex­ity, with most at­ten­tion fo­cused on nu­tri­tion and shel­ter. As with all other earthly life, sur­vival and re­pro­duc­tion was the name of the game. To aid in the sur­vival and re­pro­duc­tion game, dur­ing threats and dan­ger, our bod­ies would switch into a hard­wired mode of fight-or-flight. Phys­i­o­log­i­cally, the sym­pa­thetic ner­vous sys­tem started a whole cas­cade of sur­vival ac­tiv­i­ties in the body: eyes di­lat­ing, lungs breath­ing deeper, di­ges­tion slow­ing down, blood mov­ing to large mus­cles, cor­ti­sol and adrenaline re­leased, etc. Although this seems dra­matic, it served an im­por­tant pur­pose – it was an adap­tive sur­vival func­tion that kept us alive by giv­ing us the quick re­sponse and en­ergy to ei­ther fight or flee.

To­day, we have fewer life-threat­en­ing stresses on a nor­mal day. Yet the body’s fight-or-flight re­sponse is ac­ti­vated by a whole range of stress­ful events and sit­u­a­tions. The phys­i­cal dan­gers from the past have been re­placed by so­cial and psy­cho­log­i­cal stresses from to­day that are not wor­thy of the full fight-or-flight re­sponse. Your body doesn’t know that cur­rent pres­sures are not life threat­en­ing but re­acts the same way it did when it was a caveman fac­ing dan­ger.

In to­day’s com­plex so­ci­ety, our body is not just re­act­ing; it is over­re­act­ing. Stress was meant to be dealt with in short bursts – on or off, not the pro­longed and chronic stress that we deal with rou­tinely. In a sim­i­lar fash­ion, your car is meant to have the accelerator and brakes ap­plied sep­a­rately and as needed, not con­stant

brak­ing and driv­ing at the same time. Stress is a good thing be­cause it keeps us alive. Who wouldn’t want that? But if we are un­aware of our own per­sonal stress and, more im­por­tantly, are un­able to man­age and de­velop re­siliency, stress be­comes a very bad thing.

Stress is re­ally not the prob­lem – the prob­lem is our in­abil­ity to change. Stress is sim­ply the body’s way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with us through symp­toms that some­thing in our life needs at­ten­tion. The real prob­lem is that we ei­ther (1) do not see, know or un­der­stand why we are feel­ing stressed in the first place or (2) we know the root cause of the stress, but we don’t want to ad­dress the prob­lem. The lat­ter re­quires choice and re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Although most peo­ple con­sider stress to be a very bad thing, it can ac­tu­ally be a good thing un­der cer­tain cir­cum­stances, par­tic­u­larly if one’s goal is to ex­pe­ri­ence well-be­ing. For in­stance, stress can make a per­son be­come more aware and alert them when they are off course; the body lit­er­ally com­mu­ni­cates the “prob­lem” through symp­toms. This is help­ful be­cause it gives a per­son the op­por­tu­nity to make the ap­pro­pri­ate changes to get back on track.

The best way to al­le­vi­ate stress is to change some­thing in your life. Change can come in many forms – you can change your un­der­stand­ing of a prob­lem, change your com­mu­ni­ca­tion strat­egy, change your time man­age­ment, change the goals, change the in­ter­pre­ta­tion, etc. Although this type of change is easy to rec­om­mend, it is of­ten dif­fi­cult to ex­e­cute be­cause it forces a per­son out of their com­fort zone.

Com­fort zones are pre­dictable, safe and con­trolled. The brain in­ter­prets events out­side the com­fort zone to be un­known and there­fore un­safe. The com­fort zone is re­ally noth­ing more than your sub­con­scious mind’s range as to “where you be­long.” It is like the ther­mo­stat that keeps you where you are most com­fort­able and fa­mil­iar. Move­ment out­side our com­fort zone can ac­ti­vate the body’s sym­pa­thetic ner­vous sys­tem’s fight-or-flight re­sponse. To top it off, no one can change for us – we are in this by our­selves.

Given this, we can con­clude that stress is fun­da­men­tally not the prob­lem – the prob­lem is our in­abil­ity to change the fol­low­ing:

• Per­cep­tions of the chal­lenge (cog­ni­tive)

• How we re­act (be­hav­ior)

• How we feel (emo­tional)

Once a per­son ex­plores their own dif­fi­cul­ties with change, they can flirt with and ex­plore all of the ways they would per­son­ally like to change and grow.

I re­al­ize my in­ter­pre­ta­tion of stress may ap­pear overly sim­ple – chang­ing per­cep­tions, be­hav­ior and emo­tions – but these re­ally are the root of stress man­age­ment. To help fa­cil­i­tate real stress man­age­ment, I learned years ago to use med­i­ta­tion as a pri­mary ve­hi­cle to sup­port per­sonal change. The art of med­i­ta­tion has been passed down through the gen­er­a­tions, and it teaches us how to build re­silience, change that which we have con­trol over and leave the rest to ran­dom chaos and noise in our larger sys­tem. There are a mil­lion ways to med­i­tate – the se­cret is to find a method that works for you. Per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally I have leaned very heav­ily on tech­niques such as Emo­tional Free­dom Tech­nique, Heart­math, Quan­tum Touch, Heal­ing Codes and ba­sic mind­ful­ness. I prac­tice these tech­niques ev­ery morn­ing be­fore work, through­out my work day and in the evening, and they pro­vide me with new lev­els of re­silience. They are sim­ple to use, are well re­searched and pro­vide life-chang­ing out­comes.

As I re­flect back over 2016 and pre­pare for a healthy and happy 2017, I, too, need to re­mind my­self that stress is a good thing – if I am lis­ten­ing. Re­mem­ber that stress is not the prob­lem; it is sim­ply the body’s way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing to us through symp­toms that we are off bal­ance. We alone need to change how we per­ceive the world, change how we re­act and change how we feel.

I hope 2017 is an amaz­ing year for you, your fam­ily, your work groups, your com­pa­nies, your com­mu­ni­ties and your planet.

Dr. Chance Ea­ton has over a decade’s worth of ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in the field of Learn­ing & Or­ga­ni­za­tional De­vel­op­ment. Due to his unique ed­u­ca­tional and work ex­pe­ri­ences in fi­nance, psy­chol­ogy, lead­er­ship & man­age­ment, ed­u­ca­tion, noetic sci­ences, and agriculture, Dr. Ea­ton pro­vides his clients with rel­e­vant busi­ness solutions grounded in the­ory and re­search. To learn more about Dr. Ea­ton’s ser­vices, please visit www.hrso­lu­tion­sin­ter­na­tional.com.

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