Good Stress, Bad Stress

Like cholesterol, there is good stress and bad stress.  Bad stress brings fear (of failure) and disruption (to your health).  Good stress on the other hand, comes from challenging ourselves, which in turn, helps with our development and growth.

The boys have been going to their Kung Fu summer camp this week at the Shaolin Temple Quanfa Institute.  Initially, they were a bit stressed by all the practice and how hard Shifu was pushing them.  Then, two days into it, something clicked.  They felt stronger, more focused and leaner.  They were proud of their stances, they were fast and strong and eager to perform!  The stress brought out the best in them.

For me, as a new driver (at 46 no less!), I noticed that I was feeling stress when driving on the highway.  Initially, I didn’t realize that my body was stressed.  When I noticed it, I became aware of how much I was concentrating to do the right things: merging, watching the big truck in front of me, checking for pedestrians, slowing down…  A few days into it, something clicked.  I felt more aware, more confident and more focused.  I was proud of how much I improved, and at the same time, understanding that it was still going to take a great deal of practice to be a good driver.

Good stress: makes you better!

Bad stress on the other hand comes from toxic relationships, lack of constructive communication and constant unknowns. Bad stress causes frustration, anger, confusion and ultimately hurts our health.  There will always be unknowns in life, but we all need to work harder at improving our relationships through communication… or removing ourselves from relationships that hurt us.

Bad stress: makes you sick!

It is up to us to see what kinds of stress we are under and how to address them: rise up to the challenge and develop… or get out of the situation quickly!

It Was Pretty Bad

I’ve struggled with my weight.  All my life.

When my family returned to Taiwan after living in North America for 8 years, I was 11.  The sales lady from the clothing store took one look at me and shook her head disapprovingly.  “No ekes, ekes, ello – you too big.  We no have your sizee.”

Even though I have athletic tendencies and enjoy various sports, I am very much a couch potato, a book worm, an all-day administrator desk person… After the birth of my first son, the pounds melted away from nursing and lack of sleep, but that didn’t happen after the second.  At nearly 200 pounds, my body ached all over, I panted after running up two flights of stairs at the subway station and I could barely keep up with my ‘real’ full time job at work and my second full time job taking care of my children.

“Mommy, when I turn my head to look at you, I can see your tummy sticking out.  Is there a baby in there?”

My parents were worried about my health, my BFF offered to do some gym training and my husband checked on me at 10 pm to make sure I wasn’t succumbing to all the fast food commercials, poking my head in the fridge and eating the kids’ lunches for the next day.

“Hey, your mommy is here to pick you up!”  “No, my mommy’s at work.” “She’s got glasses, she has black hair and she’s fat.” “Oh yeah, that’s my mom.”

The stress of decision-making at work coupled with feeling like an inadequate mother led to stress eating, which led to feeling bad about myself, which led to more stress, which also led to worsening health and so on.  I was in my early 40s and my mind and body were falling apart.