Many people who come to me for counselling sit down and say they want me to help them get rid of their stress. I politely but strongly say that wouldn’t be a good idea. And that’s when they look perplexed.

We have the wrong notion of stress. When people talk about stress they often mean ‘high stress’. As a society, many people are doing work that is not a good fit for them or are being pressured to work overtime and in their off hours.

So naturally, many people want to lower their stress level. It’s understandable that they look forward to doing nothing on a weekend.

But if they were to get their wish and were able to do nothing for a long time, they would actually start feeling high stressed again!

Case in point: There is a significant increase in physical and mental illness as well as earlier death in those who were forced to retire than for those people who were not. This is especially true for people who had active work lives like police officer and firefighters. Doing nothing is stressful.

Like many things with the human body, the extremes are not better. Taking your stress level to zero means your dead.

What you’re not told is that some stress is actually good for you. In Medicine it is called “eustress”. Eustress is that emotional state where you feel challenged enough to be excited and interested but not too challenged to be overwhelmed and not too under stimulated to feel bored and tired. You want to continuously aim for that sweet spot.

It sounds tricky but the good news is that there is a part of you that innately looks for that sweet spot. You just need to learn how to call that part forward.

Live Your Dream at Work

Dr. Sam Gerstein

Business Strategy Coach, MD, Author