Last night I had the privilege of having Luke Mathers as a guest on my live chat in my women’s only Facebook group (sorry guys). Luke Mathers is an inventor, philanthropist, stress expert and author of Stress Teflon. We spoke about stress and how it affects our bodies and the impact it has on our lives.
STRESS! I know that when I think about stress, I don’t like how it makes me feel and I want less of it in my life. I’m sure you feel the same, right? BUT, last night Luke introduced me and the Fit Pharmacist FitFam group to an opinion about stress that isn’t as common as maybe it should be. When it comes to the topic, Luke says:
“Stress has a pretty bad wrap sheet. Stress gets the blame for everything from heart attacks and diabetes to strokes and addiction…anything goes wrong, we blame stress. Stress gets everyone uncomfortable and scared, and we are increasingly looking for ways to decrease our stress levels. We use medication, alcohol, drugs and comfort food to try and reduce stress.”
I think this approach is all wrong. What if we saw stress as a challenge to drive us to great heights and not a threat that needs to be avoided?
What if we embraced stress? Stress is normal. Stress is stimulating. Stress is evolutionary. It keeps us alive. Stress is not the enemy. The problem is the type of stress we have, how long it lasts, and how we’ve been taught to deal with everyday stress.
Different right? If someone told me to embrace stress before I met Luke, I would tell them that they were crazy. Stress is something that I have attributed to bad times in my life…stress at Uni, stress at work, stress in relationships…I felt terrible during some of these moments because of the way “stress” made me feel. But hang on, let’s take Luke’s statement on board. Stress pushed me to do pretty well at Uni, it pushed me to gain the knowledge I now have for my work, and it pushed me to get through whatever issues I was having in my personal life and in my relationships. So does that mean stress may have been a good thing? Was I perceiving this feeling I had in my body as a negative thing when it was actually the driving factor and continues to be for a lot of success in my life?
Have a think about it and let’s deeper dive into Luke’s “6 reasons why we need stress in our life”, and how arming ourselves with this information, we can stop putting energy into decreasing stress and instead turn that energy towards increasing our ability to utilise stress.
6 REASONS STRESS IS GOOD FOR YOU
- Stress fires you up: For thousands of years, humans have been kept alive by our fight or flight response to stress. For cavemen, it helped them escape Tigers by prioritising the parts of the body that are required for running or fighting. Stress produces adrenaline which causes the heart rate to increase, breathing to quicken (more oxygen) and gets oxygen and energy to our muscles. In short, stress fires you up to get stuff done. Procrastination is always cured by the stress of a looming deadline or impending exam. Stress gives you the energy to get stuff done.
- Builds pride from inside: Overcoming a stressful situation is where your pride in yourself is generated. The body produces the feel-good chemical serotonin whenever we do something that makes us proud. Without adversity, challenges and stress we don’t produce serotonin and run the risk of depression. Most modern antidepressants (Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro…) are all about keeping serotonin in the system. In a lot of cases, these drugs can be replaced by embracing stress, getting stuff done and being proud of yourself.
- Need stress to grow: Anyone who has ever set foot in a gym, run a marathon or trained for a sport will tell you “if you want to get better, you have to push yourself.” Pushing yourself is stressful, you don’t know if you can lift that extra 5kg on your bench press, but you have to try if you are going to improve. The same rules apply to business, relationships or anything worthwhile. To grow, you need to leave your comfort zone, and that produces stress.
- Stress builds resilience: Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. Resilience is essential in all aspects of life, and building resilience requires stress. You can’t recover from difficulties if you spend your entire life avoiding challenging situations. Embrace the stress, because overcoming those situations is where you build your belief that you can handle the next thing that comes your way. Toxic stress occurs when you think you can’t handle the situation. You can! Building resilience reassures us that we can handle any situation and decreases toxic stress.
- Stress creates tenacity: Like resilience, tenacity helps you stick with difficult tasks even when the going gets tough (and the going will always get tough). Tenacity is where you take the challenge response to stress, and it uses the fight or flight response to help you overcome hurdles. Business leaders like Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Elon Musk did not get to where they are by stopping at road blocks. They utilised stress and had the tenacity to work harder and smarter to find solutions.
- Stress creates bonds: Ever notice how old war buddies remain mates 50 years on? In another throwback to caveman times, the social bond generating hormone oxytocin is released as part of the stress response. Oxytocin is designed to make us find people to help in times of stress. Evolution and biology have ensured that in times of stress you build stronger bonds with the people in your tribe. Oxytocin has also been shown to protect your heart from damage. Overcoming adversity is a fantastic way to bring people together, whether in sport, business or family.
Here’s Luke’s challenge to all of you: Rethink your attitude to stress. View stressful situations as a challenge to bring out your best rather than a threat that needs to be avoided. By doing this, stress will be the short term power booster it’s designed to be. Rethinking your attitude to stress is the best way to eliminate the harmful effects of stress while embracing the challenges that life throws our way.
I think Luke is RIGHT! Have I converted?! I think that I will now see stress in a different light to how I have always seen it before….the next time I get that knot and butterflies in my stomach, I will attribute the feeling to being a good, positive, and a driving energy trying to push me out of my comfort zone and into greater things. Stress doesn’t sound that bad after all!
Are you convinced? Have you converted? Maybe you want to investigate this further. Well if you are interested, Luke has been kind enough to give me a code to offer all of you that want to learn more about “becoming Stress Teflon” and get $5 off his new book, Stress Teflon. Just click on the link below and use the code “FITFAM” to get your $5 off Stress Teflon and if you write Luke a nice note at checkout, he may even write you a personal note in your book!