Learn about the difference between demand and capacity.
- As I'm sure you know, if you want to make change to something, it's really important that we know exactly what it is and how to measure it. One of the biggest problems we have with stress today is that although everyone knows what it is in its essence, people experience it in very unique ways. As crazy as it may sound, it's kind of like love. It can mean so many different things but ultimately the experience is different for everyone. It's really based in the eye of the beholder.
Before we get too far along the path of trying to fix stress, we need to get crystal clear on what it is and how it impacts us. Which is why I'm going to share with you a very simple framework for understanding how stress affects the brain and the body and how to know when you have too much of it for your own good. Because we know stress is not going anywhere, and we actually don't want it to. As I'll explain later, stress can actually be very good for us if we know how to use it.
That's exactly what I'm going to teach you during our time together in this course. So, let's get started right now by agreeing on a simple definition that we can work with for defining what stress is. Stress is simply the gap between demand and capacity. Or maybe more specifically, it's what happens in that gap between demand and capacity. Think about it, when you don't have enough time, stress helps you to be hyperfocused to try to get more done in less time.
When you don't have enough money, stress gives you a sense of urgency to focus your attention on making sure you're covering your costs. If you don't have enough energy physically, stress triggers hormones to give you a surge, at least temporarily, to get out of bed in the morning and try to get things done. Which brings up the first clarification point I want to make: that stress is not good or bad, but there are differences in how stress affects us based on the type of stress, the intensity, and how long it continues.
I want to encourage you not to think of this as good stress or bad stress, because even that can get really confusing. We all know people who've had bad things happen and end up with good results, growing stronger because of the challenges that they went through, and other people who've had wonderful things happen to them but end up with a negative outcome because they weren't prepared or able to handle the changes that occurred. It's just easier not to try to categorize stress as being good or bad but rather to look at the impact of stress as either being something that can stimulate growth and positive adaptation or something that can trigger breakdown and burnout as a result of not being used effectively.
That's what we're going to talk about together in this course, how stress impacts us collectively, how it impacts you personally, and what we can do to use it for good. For now, just remember that stress is what happens in the gap between demand and capacity.
- Define “stress” and explain why it often occurs in the workplace.
- Recognize the differences between acute and chronic stress.
- List the three steps for managing stress.
- Name three things the brain craves.
- Identify the differences between primary stress reactions.
- Recall the benefits of rhythmic breathing.