We’ve Got It All Wrong

Wow! What a weekend. What I thought was going to be an easy move turned into a weekend long ordeal. It’s now Sunday night and the place is just as cluttered as it was Saturday morning. There are boxes on top of boxes and bits and pieces of random things scattered throughout the apartment…

But I’m happy! I really like the way it’s coming together. Although it’s significantly smaller than the last place, it’s a heck of a lot cozier. My roommate’s parents bought extremely comfy recliners for the living room, and it almost feels like I’m sitting on a cloud! It’s definitely going to be hard to get up and do homework in the future 😉

I think where I made the biggest mistake was not having a bedroom set picked out before hand. My bed and bed frame came, so I’m not sleeping on the floor…but I’m currently living out of plastic bins that are acting in place of a dresser and nightstand. It’s okay though…I just keep telling myself that’s part of the college experience 🙂

I have to say thank you to both of my parents for their help. Without them I’d be lost in an even bigger sea of boxes. My dad took care of all the Ikea assembly and my mom helped me with all the decorating. She even stayed a day later to help me get as situated as possible. They’re true life-savers!

This weekend I learned a lot about the difference between eustress and distress by mostly experiencing distress. Distress is the stress associated with negative emotions like anxiety and mental and physical exhaustion. It’s makes us feel terrible at all points of an event…before, during, and after.

Eustress is a totally different thing. Eustress is the type of stress that although it may seem overwhelming at the time, actually betters us in the long run. It causes us to focus our time and energy on something that will increase our performance and may even feel exciting! It’s the kind of stress that ultimately makes us the best versions of ourselves.

An example of distress would be what I experienced moving this weekend…getting angry at other people because I was overwhelmed, feeling burnt out, etc. Many of us might experience this after traumatic events, hard times, or during finals week. We can think of these as situations we would stereotypically call “stressful”.

An example of eustress would be starting a new job, getting a promotion, exercising, etc. Like I said, these are situations where the stressor is a positive event. We can think of these as situations we would typically call “challenging”. They force us out of our comfort zone for good reason.

I think it goes without saying that eustress is the kind of stress we would all like to experience, but it’s often what we feel the least. It’s more common for us to be racing to meet a deadline than it is for us to get a raise or promotion at work.

What sucks about this is that we end up experiencing life in a burnt out state. We walk into the day at 60-75% capacity only to leave at 30-40% capacity. This cycle repeats over and over until we can recharge during the weekend. But then we start again at 55-70% and fight until the next weekend. We fight until we hit 0%, also known as burnout.

A lot of us think we don’t have control over this, but I think we do because I’d actually argue that we are partially to blame for experiencing distress. In my opinion, it goes back to how we spend our free time.

One of the biggest lies of our time is that of free time. Most of us would define free time as the ability to get home from work, lay in front of the TV with a drink, and vegetate. We think of it as weekends we can literally do nothing but go to the movies or party with friends.

But if we spend all of our free time doing things like these and we are still hitting walls day in day out, are we actually thinking of free time in the wrong way? Is it actually causing us to experience more distress rather than rejuvenating eustress?

I mean after all, hangovers and a laundry list of missed chores to do don’t sound like nice things to come home to on Sunday night just as another week is about to begin.

I think if we spent more of our leisure time engaging in self-betterment exercises, we all might see life in a whole new way. By self-betterment, I don’t mean sitting and meditating all day or going on retreats every weekend. I mean doing every day things that will cause us to grow and stimulate our minds, but will also give us the mental break we need.

What if we all spent 30 minutes reading before bed instead of watching the news? Reading opens our eyes to new ways of thinking while still managing to relax us.

How about going for a walk and listening to music, an audiobook, or even a podcast when we get home from work instead of cracking open a beer? Our waistlines might even thank us for that one!

It’s also my opinion that engaging in practices like these has transferable benefits. I’ve come to notice that people that are more in touch with themselves tend to perform better at most things they do like work, exercising, and even how they manage stressful situations.

And guess what happens as a result of that? Other people begin to take notice. People like bosses, coworkers, family, and friends…people that can give us promotions at work, introduce us to influential people, exercise with us, and help us when the diet gets rough. These are all situations that lead us to experiencing more eustress than distress.

Now distress isn’t all bad. Many of us can name trying times we’ve experienced that ultimately made us better people, but I think those are few and far between.

What’s hard though is that I can get you thinking about changing how you spend your free time, but I can’t make you do it. That part is up to you. No matter how many examples or personal stories I tell, the responsibility ultimately falls on you to take action.

But I can give you some of my favorite examples on how to effectively spend free time and ultimately experience more eustress…

  • Exercise before or after work. This can be at the gym, in a yoga class, or even walking outdoors (my personal favorite).
  • Read at night in place of a few minutes of screen time.
  • Go on a quick walk on the beach or through a forest instead of scrolling through social media.
  • Mediate for 5 minutes instead of checking your phone.
  • Journal at the end of the day to let out any stressors.
  • Pray.
  • Listen to a podcast or engage in a spiritual ritual while you drive to and from work.
  • Call your parents or friends and talk about life while you drive home. Personal connections are key!
  • Volunteer on a Saturday morning.

I think these are all things we can incorporate into our lives pretty easily. I have one last word of advice…like anything, start out small and don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’ll only lead to more distress!

I want to end by saying that watching TV all day or even partying on the weekends aren’t necessarily bad if done in moderation. I’ll be the first to say that a Netflix and pizza night is one of my guilty pleasures, but there’s a lot of other things we could be doing to enrich our lives instead. Things that relax and grow us simultaneously.

I hope you join me in trying to experience a life characterized by eustress instead of distress. So far, I can tell you the grass is definitely greener on this side. It’s amazing what happens when we start watering our own grass instead of complaining about how nice someone else’s is instead.

And one last thing! What do you think about changing the name of the blog to “Taking Back Today”? Comment your opinions below!

As always, thank you for reading. Don’t forget to like, comment, and share. Tell me your thoughts! I love hearing from you all. Have a great week 🙂

“If you want to invest in something with minimum risk and a guaranteed big return, invest in yourself.” ~ BossBabe

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