But is your life filled with good stress, or bad stress?
Here’s what bad stress and good stress looks like to me – and keep in mind that classifying stress as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is a very personal thing and totally open to interpretation! So my lists may look nothing like your lists. But stick with me, cause we’re going to get to yours! Okay, here we go:
Jini’s Bad Stress List
Cleaning, dishes, laundry
Cooking on demand (i.e. having to cook vs. feeling like making something yummy)
Driving kids around
Flying on an airplane
Jini’s Good Stress List
Deadline for book or project completion
Speaking in front of hundreds
Kids having emotional meltdown
Conflict with husband or kids
Good stress is challenging, difficult, tiring… but the outcome is worth the energy. Or, even during the difficulty, there is a part of you that’s invigorated.
Bad stress is restricting, contractile, and sucks your life force energy. It holds no meaning or importance for you beyond the logistics of just getting it done.
People talk a lot about ‘reducing stress’ or ‘eliminating stress’ because it’s bad for your health. But stress is actually a normal part of life. If you try to eliminate stress from your life – especially if you have children – that mere intention will increase your stress level!
I’ve found a far more effective strategy to be one where I focus on reducing the Bad Stress items in my life, to make more room for the Good Stress items in my life.
How Do You Outsource Bad Stress Items?
One of the easiest ways to offload items from your Bad Stress List – to make more room for items from your Good Stress List – is to trade tasks.
This is why it’s so great that we all don’t like the same things! So if cooking is stressful for me, yet my husband doesn’t mind it, then I can trade him cooking for helping the kids with their homework (which he finds really stressful).
Or, I might have a talk with my kids and tell them that we’re going to change things around a bit. Instead of me paying for their skating, or movies, or clothes, they’re going to have to pay for those items themselves. Guess how they’re going to earn the money for that? By cooking!
I have to say, I had a stroke of brilliance one day when I realized that rather than yelling at my kids, or grounding them when they behaved badly, I could mete out consequences in the form of… cooking! But here’s how I positioned it, because my kids are really motivated by money. Probably most kids are. So rather than handing out a traditional consequence like grounding, no TV, take away your devices, etc. My consequence for bad behaviour was a $10 fine. BUT I gave them a choice, they could work off the money by cooking dinner for the family. Pay me $10, or cook dinner, your choice. Of course, they always chose to cook. YAY!
And by the way, if you want to swipe this idea, just get The Can’t Cook Book by Jessica Seinfeld. The instructions are so easy (and illustrated) that kids have no problem following it. If your kids are younger (8 or 9) they’re going to need some help here and there. But it’s all good, because they’re learning to cook!
The Power Of Choice
Or, I may power through a bad stress and a good stress at the same time – holding them in tandem – knowing that the good stress item is going to buy my way out of the bad stress item. For example, I may choose to keep doing the cooking AND finish my book by working after the kids have gone to sleep. Because I know that I’m going to use the money from my book sales to hire my neighbour to cook freezer meals for me.
I would guess that about seventy percent of the mothers I know really don’t like cooking. I’m talking about the cooking that happens 3 times a day, every day, forever. But they ALL continue to do it. Why?
Usually because it has not even dawned on them that there might be a way to outsource that bad stress task. And probably because they have not even consciously identified that they have a CHOICE.
So let’s get your awareness going and open yourself up to the fact that you DO have a CHOICE:
1. Make a list now of the Good Stress Items in your life and the Bad Stress Items – this means actually get out a piece of paper, or your journal, and get those critters written down!
2. Brainstorm ways you can trade, or outsource some of the Bad Stress items. Again, make SURE you write these down, or it will just be one more thing that doesn’t get done 🙁 Take a breath. And get out your pen.
3. Watch this video below and let Kelly McGonigal show you how pursuing your dreams, or meaningful goals in your life, negates the ‘stress response’ so your body does not suffer the ill effects. If your health is anything less than 85%, you need to watch this video!
Here are the top take-away points from Kelly McGonigal that you can embrace to give yourself a new mental and physical reality:
This is my body helping me rise to this challenge. I can trust myself to handle life’s challenges.
Reaching out to others during stress strengthens my heart and makes my body healthier by increasing oxytocin production.
human Connection = stress Resilience
When you choose to view your stress response as ‘helpful’ you create the biology of courage.
Chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort.
Go after what it is that creates meaning in your life and then trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.