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Effective Stress Management for the Seriously Curious Attorney

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Eustress or Distress?

If I just didn’t have all these problems and pressure, life would be great. Maybe making a transition into another career is the solution. This may or may not be true. Another word for problem is challenge; challenges invigorate us and make our lives more interesting.
When we meet a challenge successfully, we feel proud and exhilarated. The happy feeling of I did it! that comes from effectively coping with stress is called eustress. Many researchers believe it actually promotes health as well as enhancing life.

Eustress occurs when we correctly identify the source of our stress and take constructive action to deal with it. The secret of positive stress is a sense of control. When we can make choices and influence the outcome of a situation, we meet the challenge successfully and return to a normal level of functioning relatively quickly.

Distress occurs when…
• We believe we have no control over what happens in our lives;
• we see few or no options;
• the source of stress is ambiguous
• stress is prolonged over time; or
• several sources of stress exist simultaneously.
Distress is accompanied by tension, pressure and anxiety. Rather than the concerted energy of eustress, we feel drained. While some stress is necessary to give life variety and challenge, too much stress or the wrong kind, or at the wrong time, becomes debilitating.

Signs of stress overload include:
• hurrying everywhere; walking, talking, driving faster
• feeling depressed, apathetic or bored most of the time
• changes in sleeping or eating patterns
• difficulty enjoying social activities
• emphasis on how much you get done rather than how well you do it
• inability to accept praise or affection, even when you want it
• more frequent accidents than usual

When stress overload causes health problems, it affects our budgets as well as our minds. Stress impairs immune system functioning, lowering the body’s resistance to disease. Many medical texts estimate that as much as 50-80% of all disease is stress-related.

Statistics indicate that it costs the U.S. at least $200 billion a year in stress-related absenteeism, lowered productivity, increased compensation claims, health insurance and direct medical expenses. Job stress sabotages physical and psychological well-being and contributes to dozens of health problems, from headaches to hypertension.
Now perhaps you would like to take a simple stress quiz to find out how well you are currently managing the stress in your life.

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