Believe in nothing, no matter who says it, even if I say it, if it does not agree with your own experience and your own common sense ~ Buddha

Stresses are not created equal. Obviously, the loss of a loved one is not equivalent to getting cut off in traffic. Receiving a Nobel Prize and having to give an acceptance speech is not the same as getting called out by your boss.

Basically, stress is any stimulus that triggers your body to activate the sympathetic? nervous system. It’s often referred to as the fight/flight/fuck response, but this is too simplistic.

Eustress — It’s the Good Kind

Simply put, there are two kinds of stress. The negative kind is simply ‘stress”. The positive kind is eustress (the prefix means ‘good’ in Greek)

Eustress is rarely referred to outside of psychology literature, but you might see it referred to as ‘challenge,’ ‘stretch goals’ and competitiveness. Quite simply, eustress is stimulus that triggers a stress response in a way that is productive and beneficial.

Exercise is eustress. So is sex. Any mental or physical challenge that you perceive to be interesting, possible, and worthy of your time, is eustress.

This is why entrepreneurs work a lot, and why they tend to spend their downtime in hair-raising pursuits: they like the high that eustress brings.

Does this describe you?

It doesn’t have to, of course. I see these days a lot of emphasis on gentle approaches. But what I’ve come to realize that that just isn’t how like to roll.

Of course, chasing the battle fever has it’s dark side. Chasing that high can get you hurt, some times badly.

Look at me. I’m *cough* closing in on a quarter century and I’ve been in several accidents, and exhausted myself to the point of hospitalization twice. I won’t say I was necessarily having fun by that point. But it started off as fun. I guess the reason the medical field doesn’t differentiate between stress and eustress is because the effects on your body are identical.

What happened to me is that, over time, I overstimulated my adrenal glands to the point where they never shut down. Even though I rode the wave with fierce confidence and determination, in spite of being in top mental and physical form, I went to the cupboard and the cupboard was bare. No more adrenaline for me.  😦

I can’t be fighting all day, everyday.

Even though I love it.

But I sure as fuck am not retiring, either.

Slow and steady does absolutely nothing for me. About the only thing that I can attest to is that it’s hard to maintain the pace. But who cares? As long as I get systems in place to allow for down time, I’m gonna BE a sprinter.

Enough About Me– What About You?

If you’re a sprinter, brawler, scrapper, or fighter, accept that you have significant cycles in your energy level. Chase that excitement, as long as you also listen to your body when it’s time to chill.

That’s our weakness, isn’t it? I mean, I promised my husband I would quit work faithfully at 5 everyday. I hate it! There’s so much I want to do, and I generally get a wave of creative energy at three in the afternoon. I could, and would, keep going until 7, but by that time it’s been a 14 hour day.

I’d just as soon work 14 hours for four days and take three off to do nothing in particular, but that’s not how it works when you cohabitate. Still, by being aware of my ideal rhythms, I can recreate them when my husband travels.

Think about your own situation now. How have you negated your own preferences and rhythms because it was inconvenient or it seemed weird, or you’re getting older or what-the-fuck-ever. I’m not knocking the marathoners, now, goodness knows they’ve earned their day in the sun. But if you lived alone, and worked on your own schedule, how would you operate? If you didn’t have a clock, if you had no way of knowing it was a weekend or a weekday, what would your rhythms be?

Now, how could you rearrange things so it was closer to ideal?

When I was learning to drive truck, my trainer bet me that I couldn’t drive all day without grinding a gear. If he lost, he couldn’t smoke in the the truck. DONE.

  Could you make bets with a loved one to improve your focus? Could you hide your laptop in a drawer until your morning pages are are finished? Could you create benchmarks on your projects just to see how much you can destroy them?

Are you a sprinter, or a marathoner? How does that work in your world? Do you find yourself at cross-purposes, or does it work well for you?

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Comments on: "Do You Crave Battle-Lust?" (6)

  1. I can’t stop staring at that picture.

    Anyways.

    My partner and I have drastically different rhythms when it comes to peak performance time – he does his best work from about 11 PM to 4 AM, and I do mine either in a short stint at midday or around 7-11 PM. (My rhythm is currently established by my work schedule. When it’s not a workday, my shit is random but much more likely to appear in the afternoon.) When neither of us have work to limit our schedules, he’ll stay up some four hours later than me, and I’ll wake up some two or three hours before him.

    Upon thinking about it, I’m neither a sprinter or marathoner. My partner is the type to try to do big projects all at once in one fell swoop, which rarely works out and ends up tiring/stressing him when he stays up until daylight and has to teach in three hours. He’s starting to try doing things in large portions, and it’s working out a lot better. But me, I do things in nibbles most times. I’ll have a bite of A, then a drink of B, and a short break, and then some more B, a little A, a nap, etc. I will still sit down for a few hours on a project and can get a little single-minded about finishing it or reaching a certain progress landmark, but I’m much better when I can juggle a few different things in the same time-stream.

    Which is why Twitter and email are actually helpful to me – I can give my brain a mini-break when I need to and I don’t get stressed or burnt-out nearly so quickly when I’m working. Even when I’m buried in something I absolutely love to do, I do better in short stints. I’ve started to do NaNoWriMo and similar writing project in timed 15-minute sprints, then take a 5-minute break, rather than write for 45 minutes and take 15 afterwards. As much as I’m able, I do this at work, too, breaking up Tedious Data Entry™ with one-minute pauses to check Twitter or stretch or drink water or suchnot.

    Also, I’m not addicted to eustress. I’m lazy, like a cat in the sun, and I am totally content to be that way. I may not be the most prolific, productive person in the world, but I am really happy and fairly constructive. It’s a great balance for me. I salute folks like you, Shanna, who have the go-go-go attitude and energy, but I just don’t have that kind of internal battery. 🙂

  2. *grin* I know, isn’t that a great picture? I’m going to start looking for more tasteful nudes to make my point. (But I shudder to think what cracks the rock dust would get into!)

    There’s nothing to salute, it takes all kinds. Your method sounds like a recipe for schizophrenia to ME. Too hard for me to remember what I was trying to do between breaks. I hate to even stop to eat.

    • *laughs* Well, I am ADD, so my brain is far more inclined to do well with multitasking. I can get around it in a few different ways, but it’s still a natural tendency that works for me more than against, most times.

      Plus, there’s something that feels… both playful and gentle with multitasking (speaking for my own experience, not as it applies to anyone else). Like I’m not trying to be my own slavedriver and do everything right NOW; taking breaks and switching focus helps keep the engine from overheating, as it were. It’s a far cry from the common perception of multitasking, which has tons of stress and rushrushrush and mustdoallthethings. Sure, I engage in that when I have to (ahem, busy days at work), but it’s not how I function when I have the choice. And some things are still best done without distractions.

      Hey, lightbulb. Just realized that the different bits of my multitasking are more like companions than distractions. Music especially, but also conversations or comments on Twitter and whatnot. It feels more like being surrounded by good things that support my main task than torn away from The One Thing I Am Supposed To Be Doing constantly. It’s all about building an atmosphere of cozy productivity.

      I sound like a cheeseball. 😀

      • That kind of companionship is good for me sometimes. For instance, right now I am looking at my timer 😉 It’s good for mechanical work, like the taxes I am currently working on. For writing, not so much, but sometimes. This article I wrote in the truck, and I had a really good time, singing Fraggle Rock to myself and staring at the scenery while I decided to include just.one.more.metaphor.

        But mostly the companions just serve to get me into the zone.

        This is interesting, hey?

  3. […] a comment After Friday’s post about battle-fever and how you can overwork your body’s stress response even when you’re enjoying the […]

  4. […] I looked at my recent posts, full of challenge and battle and […]

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