The importance of stress
You can read in any medical journal or web site that stress is bad. It is the root cause of most diseases both physically and mentally. That may be so, but I am learning that there are two kinds of stress, very much like there are two kinds of cholesterol. There is a good kind and a bad kind. In fact, the bad kind can most certainly be avoided because if you look at it from a distance, you realize it’s not real.
I think some people want the ones they know to be stressed just so they can relate to them. Being pregnant, I have learned this all too well. First, everyone expects me to be miserable. When I say I’m not, they try to find something. If they can’t, they try to give me unsolicited advice about what is supposed to happen, or how it’s supposed to be, or they proceed to tell me their miserable stories.
It’s not just actual people that I know, it’s also what I’m reading on the internet or in magazines. My favorite thing is these lists of all the things I must have to make my nursery complete. How did children survive a hundred years ago without crib bumpers and battery operated bouncy seats? And people actually stress about this (I have heard these thngs). “I didn’t get everything I wanted in my registry!” “Should my stroller match my baby swing?” If thoughts like these spend more than five seconds in anyone’s mind, that is the bad stress, that has no place in our short life time. This is the kind of stress people actually choose to have. It seems so silly when you look at it, but when it invades you, you may not see it clearly.
However, when you think of a flower, it takes some stress and pressure for the seed to burst out of the ground into a bloom. How can anyone call this stress bad? If it were not there, the seed would be dead. It’s a sign of life. When I get contractions and strong pains in my tummy, there is definitely some intense stress in my body, but without it, no baby would come.
It’s not just physical stress. Many times changes don’t or won’t happen unless there is some type of stress to push things in motion or to show us what we are capable of. If your job is no longer enjoyable, or you are not making enough money which causes stress on your finances, you will find another job. Most times it’s so much better and you might even wonder why you didn’t do it earlier. This stress provided the motivation you needed to create the momentum of change.
The last few months of my term in Thailand put me in survival mode 24/7. I had snakes in my house, went five days without food or clean water, my house was infested with ants, cock roaches and tarantulas and my very small village had the strange idea that I was a witch and began to isolate me (to name a few things). This stress showed me two things. First, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. I’d never really quit anything, and I actually had to make the decision to leave to save myself. But also, I lived with that stress for several months, which showed me my survival threshold. This showed me both my strength and determination. I would never have known these things about myself if I hadn’t been pushed to that edge.