One of the most useful ways of understanding stress is to think of it as the response that occurs when we perceive that we don’t have the resources to cope with whatever challenge we’re presented with.
When this happens, we feel threatened and it is this feeling that sets off our ‘fight or flight’ response – the chain of physical and neurological reactions that mammals developed early in their evolutionary history to protect them from deadly predators.
Thus, for example, when we’re already overloaded with work and another urgent task lands in our inbox, we may feel that we can’t manage it because we lack the resources of time or energy to do what is required. We may therefore perceive a threat to our equilibrium and become stressed as a result.
I’ve worked pretty hard at managing the stress in my life over the last few years.
I’ve educated myself about the psychology and physiology involved in stress responses, I’ve undertaken a mindfulness-based stress reduction course and I carry out a daily meditation practice.
Yet, inevitably, I still sometimes find that I react negatively to what seem (at the time) to be overwhelming circumstances.
A recent example for me, was dealing with stress that arose (ironically) in the lead up to a family holiday to Hahei, in the Coramandel Peninsular, New Zealand.
As you can see from the picture above, taken early on the first morning of the holiday, the effort of getting there was undoubtedly worth it.
But sitting on the beach that morning brought home to me how much harm we can cause ourselves through misjudging our ability to cope with circumstances and thereby setting off the stress driven reaction rather than a measured response.
I recorded my thoughts on this as I sat there.
Please watch the video and let me know what you think in the comments below.
Better still, learn more about managing stress in legal practice, by signing up for my free course now.