Stress comes in all forms and affects people of all ages and all walks of life. The degree of stress in our lives is highly dependent upon individual factors such as our physical health, the quality of our interpersonal relationships, the number of commitments and responsibilities we carry, the degree of others’ dependence upon and expectations of us, the amount of support we receive from others, and the number of changes or traumatic events that have recently occurred in our lives.

The main sources of the stress in my life typically originate from my expectation of perfectionism and resistance to change. There are definitely plenty of changes and uncertainties at the workplace these days, which causes unwanted anxiety. So I spent some time reexamining my priorities and not surprisingly they came out the same. My family comes first, my interest in writing second and career growth third. Therefore instead of putting in longer hours to meet the workplace demands, I am managing to work smart and communicate more effectively. To be present with Jake and protect our daily reading time is important to me. Joe and I are mindful of encouraging him to do the age appropriate things by himself, but I’ll put down whatever I am doing if Jake or anyone else in my family needs my help. Whenever I am on my laptop, Jake would usually come and ask me to help him look for library books. So together we search by book titles and place holds online. Then we go to the library and pick them up on the hold shelf. To keep up with writing, I am learning to be more observant and absorbing in whatever I do. Often times, a thread emerges unexpectedly. I’ll make a note of it and let it brew in my mind till I am ready to turn the idea into a piece of writing. Even though work-related stress isn’t desirable, the opportunities to learn new things and master new skill are exciting and beneficial in the long run.

I am so glad that I didn’t spend the last 6 months agonizing over Michelle’s college decisions. She went to Indiana University and spent 3 days with Jane last week. On Saturday before she came home, I asked her via text message, “Are you having a good time?”
“Yeah! I don’t want to leave.” She responded.
My heart rejoiced. “You’re going to spend the next 4 years there, girl!”

Michelle had asked us to take her back to UMich at the end of April just to see if she’d still feel the same way about it as she did 3 years ago on her first visit. So Joe popped the question at dinner table on Sunday, “Michelle, we are still going to visit UMich in a couple of weeks, right?”
“No! Why?” She looked at him wide-eyed.
Joe and I looked at each other beaming.

Things tend to work out for the best in the end. Believing this simple truth can eliminate many unnecessary stressors in your life.

A life free of stress may be enviable but not realistic. As strange as it sounds, we need stress in our life. Stress can be motivating and inspire us to new horizons. We need a certain amount of stress to enjoy life.

According to a news release from the University of Guelph, squirrel babies born under stressful conditions are a lot larger than babies raised during calmer times. The researchers tricked squirrel moms into thinking that conditions were more crowded than they really were by playing squirrel calls over loudspeakers. They then looked into the impacts of stress hormones by giving some squirrel moms peanut butter mixed with stress hormones. Mothers given the stress hormones raised faster-growing babies than the control female squirrels*. In the wild when conditions are harsh, faster-growing baby squirrels have a better chance of surviving.

Good stress is about remaining alert and rising to the challenges that we face in our day-to-day living. However too much of even the good thing can lead to distress, often felt as worry and anxiety, and can put you off your performance and lead to poorer health.

It’s easier to eliminate some stressors than others. For example, rushing to an appointment is stressful to me. Therefore I try not to put myself in that situation by leaving a few minutes earlier. Although we may not be able to change the environment or the other people that cause tension in our lives, we can alter our perceptions. In addition to understanding the priorities of your life and seeing the big picture, taking up a hobby, reading a favorite book or taking a nature walk can all help reduce worry and anxiety. A good workout is extremely effective as well.

Reprioritize your life to keep stress at an optimal level so that it’ll become a life enhancer rather than an inhibitor.