Stress is Poison

April is National Stress Awareness month.

Stress management is essential to our physical and emotional well-being.

  • Stress’ purpose
  • Prolonged stress is deadly
  • Controlling stress

Stress’ purpose

Stress is designed as a protection mechanism to keep us safe.

When we are in a permanent state of stress, the real harm is done.

Both kinds of stress (good and bad) are a gift. They are our brain’s way of signaling us that something needs to change NOW.

Most stress is a learned reaction to FEAR. It is our body’s way of protecting us.

If it is addressed properly, stress can keep us safe.

The problem is that we allow our stress to control us, rather than controlling it.

We feel victimized by stressful situations rather than empowered.

We must remember that most of the things that we fear are learned. If learned, then they can be unlearned.

Understanding this principle will help us to greatly minimize our stress.

Stress is deadly

Starting with the most primitive days, we would release chemicals called hormones when a dangerous situation was detected (for instance, we spot a hungry animal headed our way.)

Hormones would cause physical changes in our bodies that would allow us to change the situation. We breathe more deeply, our hearts pump more blood more quickly, all in preparation to RUN.

As a temporary safety measure, these chemical reactions are great. We need them in order to stay safe.

However, our bodies were not designed to sustain prolonged stress. Maintaining high levels of stress will cause long-term illnesses ranging from hypertension, migraines, heart attacks, ulcers – the list is endless.

It is important for your physical well-being to minimize ALL stress, especially distress.

Controlling stress

First of all, while it is probably possible to get rid of all stress (it’s called not giving a rip), it is probably not desirable. Your goal instead should be to minimize UNNECESSARY stress and become proactive in your life.


Eustress is good.

It provides the extra energy needed to make positive changes in our lives. It is our signal that our present situation is no longer good enough and that it must change NOW.

Eustress produces adrenalin and endorphins  and other hormones that give us a “rush” of energy and excitement when moving toward a goal.

Eustress is what allows me to get my work done for my day job while still maintaining my business. It gives me the excitement and energy to keep going.

Without eustress, our lives become dull, uneventful and stagnant.

Eustress is necessary for happiness. Without eustress we become depressed and unhappy.


The way to create eustress is to dream.

Create exciting goals for your life, things that you want to achieve and find ways to work toward those goals each day.

You will become dissatisfied with your present situation and your body will naturally produce those “this must change” hormones and the energy needed to change your life.

Now, a word of caution – too much of a good thing can be counterproductive. If we live in a constant state of euphoria (like when we find car keys under the Christmas tree) we wouldn’t get much done. We must balance even our eustress.


Now distress (bad stress) is KILLER STRESS and should be eliminated.

Your sources of stress are NOT beyond your control. You have resigned yourself to believing that you are trapped in the stress and have no way out.


Remember that stress is learned from FEAR. Your current situation is a result of learned fear. It is your interpretation of the situation, not the situation itself that is causing stress.

Become proactive in how you look at situations and you can conquer the fear.

Now, this is by no means easy. Your fear was not learned overnight and will not be conquered overnight. It is a process, a habit to be broken, but you have the POWER to break the habit.

Let’s look at a common stress: your job. Many, many people have very stressful jobs.

Your job is stressing you out because you FEAR.

With the shaky economy, the pressure to keep your job is higher. Many employers take advantage of this situation. You spend 40 hours or more being overworked and psychologically torn apart until you are so drained that you cannot think straight.


The problem is the way you are thinking about your job. You are approaching your employment from a position of FEAR rather than a position of POWER.

You are thinking of your job in terms of WHAT IF – what if they fire me or lay me off? How will I feed my family, how will I pay my bills?

You have released your power to your employer. Take it back immediately.

Turn that WHAT IF around and empower yourself.

WHAT IF you lose your job? Do you qualify for unemployment benefits? Will you be able to cut back on some things in order to make ends meet? Is this the only job you qualify for?

Start your own business

It doesn’t matter what you do, sell Avon, clean houses, “consult.” Begin to create another financial basket to put your eggs in. You now have another way to support yourself, something within your control. The “WHAT IFs” are no longer so powerful once you have another source of income.

Even if you are the perfect employee, can you not get fired or laid off?


Do the best job that you can at your current job. You cannot do any better than your best. Either that is good enough for your employer or it is not.

Either way, it is THEIR decision to either retain or terminate you, not yours. You cannot control that decision; all you can do is your best.

Remember, you cannot control others, only yourself. You are causing stress and frustration by thinking that you can somehow control your employer. You cannot.

Focus on the things you CAN control, like your performance. Compete with only yourself, improving on your last best effort.

Have internal confidence, don’t look for external validation.

Prepare a mental plan B for the contingency that you are terminated (unlikely but empowering.)

YOU WILL SURVIVE – once you realize this, your employer no longer has emotional power over you. You have taken back your peace of mind.

Once you realize that you will survive with or without this job, your reactions change immediately. You no longer FEAR and can move confidently. Your job performance will probably improve.

No matter how impossible your supervisors may be, they don’t control your reactions – you do.

Take back your power; do not surrender it to your employer. You have control over your thinking, not them. They can belittle you, overwork you, degrade you, write you up, but they cannot define you without your permission.

I work with people who set ridiculous standards. We all do. I once worked for a college president who forbade talking in the halls.


My response to them – OK and I continue to improve upon my best performance and set my own goals. I don’t worry about termination – I will survive. (I talked in the halls, too – and chewed gum. SHE was the one who eventually got terminated.)

I do not give them permission to make me sick.

The worst thing that your employer can do is terminate you.

If you are prepared to handle the worst case scenario, there is no need to stress the small stuff.

They are just not that important.

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About living4bliss

Mental Health Food is the place to stop to get your bliss on everyday. I give tips, hints and sometimes a little silliness to help you navigate the challenges of life. We have a great community of positive bloggers that keep the bliss going all day every day. Make sure to visit their blogs, too. Mental Health Food is a product of Believing Life Is Setup for Success, Inc. (B.L.I.S.S.) in Thornton, CO. We have been in the business of teaching success since 1991. We provide workshops, consulting services and now videos that help people just like you start and maintain successful businesses and personal lives using what you already have. Enjoy a daily dose of Mental Health Food; nourishment for the mind.

12 responses »

  1. I have always believed that the prolonged stressful situation that my mother lived with was a mitigating factor in her developing terminal cancer. She remained in a marriage she felt she could not leave. I have always felt that distress was responsible as well as the person who caused the stress in the first place.

  2. I live a relatively stress-free life, controlling what I can control and letting go (“Letting God”) take the rest. Tune into my blog tomorrow!

  3. Excellent article. Prolonged stress is a killer and does weaken our immune system making us more prone to illness/disease. I have to practice what I preach. I am prone to stress, but have figured out some great relaxation practices. If I am not careful, I allow stress to attack. Thank you for the reminder.

    • living4bliss says:

      I think we are all guilty from time to time and need to be reminded. I, likewise add unnecessary stress in my life and have to reevaluate my priorities. I am a chronic perfectionist.

  4. cruz2lose says:

    Great post! Letting go is so very important, when my last position began to affect my health, I knew it was time to walk away.

  5. martingysler says:

    A great article, I will immediately share 🙂

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