The Perception of Stress - OptimizeCEO - OptimizeCEO

Thomas DeLauer

Executive Body & Business Coach

I’ve talked a lot about the difference between good stress and bad stress, but in this video, I want to talk more about how we perceive stress. Looking at the same pinnacle of stress and looking at it as whether it’s a good kind of stress or a bad kind of stress and how you actually perceive that inside your mind. How you perceive it, might actually dictate the impact that stress has on your body.

Studies are finding more and more that if we perceive stress as a negative thing, that we are actually setting ourselves up for failure. For so many years, psychologists have told us that we need to watch our levels of stress because it’s going to ultimately kill us. If we’re stressed out, we’re going to have heart attacks. If we’re stressed out, we’re going to get diabetes. If we get stressed out, we’re going to flat out die right in front of our family members. The thing is, if you continue to think that way, you do make it a reality.

We look at something called neuroplasticity, which is basically a fancy way of saying mindfulness. When you start being aware of how you’re reacting to stress. That is exactly what causes unhealthy responses and healthy responses to stress. If you think that stress is bad, then you’re going to be hard wired to automatically gravitate towards that as being negative. Which means you’re going to dwell on a negative. Your blood vessels are going to shrink in size in terms of being vascular constrictive. Your heart’s going to race. It’s going to be a negative kind of stress. But, if you start looking at that same stress response in a positive way, it becomes, overall, a good experience. It’s the difference between being stressed out because you’re excited or having your heart rate increase because you’re excited because maybe you’re going to see a family member you haven’t seen in a long time. Or the difference between that and being stressed out because you’re going to be speaking in front of an audience. It’s all about how you’ve conditioned yourself to look at stress.

I’m going to use an example that I think is pretty interesting. This is a study that was performed a couple years ago. It was performed on 388 people. They took a survey of people that were going through a stressful period of time. They surveyed them. They asked, “How stressed out have you been over the last month or so?” This was during a time of global economic crisis, so most people were pretty darn stressed out.

What they did is they took half of these people and they put them in a room after asking them about being stressed out and they played happy, upbeat, uplifting music. Think Disney style. Think happy, uplifting Lion King type music. They told them that stress is a good thing and that stress is okay and that your body’s rising to the occasion. Then they took the other group and they put them in a room and they played deep, dark, depressing music and they told them that stress would kill them.

Here’s what’s crazy. The people that had positive, uplifting music played to them, had a 30 percent less instance of stress related health conditions than the other group. It just goes to show that how you perceive stress is everything. So what can you do? You can become mindful. Every time you see yourself getting stressed out or you feel your heart rate start to increase, you have to think of it like this, “This is my body rising to an occasion. This is my body getting up to speed for what it needs to do to tackle this issue.” If you’re negative about stress, you’re letting stress overcome you. You need to realize that stress is a good thing and it’s your body rising to the occasion so that you can tackle the task at hand. Try that on for size. Change your perception of stress. Thanks for watching. See you in the next video.