Get Stressed the Right Way

Stress is not always bad. It comes with having big goals and pushing beyond your comfort zone. Going off to college, starting a new job, traveling to a foreign country, or launching a business trigger stress. And they also bring feelings of excitement, confidence and achievement. It’s the chronic, persistent, negative stress that you need to watch out for.

Stress is not always bad. It comes with having big goals and pushing beyond your comfort zone. Going off to college, starting a new job, traveling to a foreign country, or launching a business trigger stress. And they also bring feelings of excitement, confidence and achievement.

Stress is positive when it stimulates growth, adaptation and expansion. It’s the chronic, persistent, negative stress that you need to watch out for.   

Stress can be good and productive or it can be toxic and destructive. That’s why it’s important to get stressed the right way. 

Stress is a stimulus that challenges your body and mind to adapt, moves you out of homeostasis, and shift you away from your baseline.

Too much stress and not enough rest lead to injury, illness and burnout. Too little stress and too much rest result in complacency, stagnation and dissatisfaction. 

In episode 26 of The Incrementalist podcast, you will learn:

1) A simple growth equation: Stress + Rest = Growth
  • how to alternate between stress and rest
  • how to get the right dose of stress
2) Why you need to set a just manageable challenge for your current abilities and skills
  • Ideal challenge-skills ratio is - 
  • 7 out of 10, where you succeed most of the time, but need to pay attention to the challenge
  • 4%, where the challenge level is 4% greater than your present skill level
3) What happens to your state of flow when the challenge is too high or too low

4) The difference between the anabolic state and the exhaustion state and how stress affects each

5) Why you need to know your limits and be realistic when setting a challenge

6) The significance of the ultradian rhythm (work-rest cycle in a 24-hour day) 
  • How to use it to your benefit when switching between cycles of work and cycles of rest
  • 90 minutes of deep work followed by 20 minutes of deep rest generally synchs with the ultradian rhythm
  • Why some breaks (e.g. taking a nap or a walk) are better than others (e.g. scrolling social media)
7) The optimal work-rest split depends on your own focus muscle, energy level, the type of task, the time of day, your work schedule and other factors

8) Vacations and extended breaks are critical, and must be accompanied by regular breaks between work sessions each day

9) Whether you view stress as a challenge or as a threat affects your response
  • challenge response triggers DHEA, which boosts testosterone levels and lowers anxiety, worry and neuro degeneration 
  • threat response increases cortisol and inflammatory proteins, which cause inflammation, contribute to depression and impair the immune system. 
10) Two ways to prime yourself for peak performance
  • Customize routines and rituals, which condition your mind and body for focused work
  • Block distractions and interruptions, which stop adaptation to stress
11) The 5 Principles in the Incrementalist approach to make big changes without going too far outside your comfort zone

Resources cited: 
Music by:
  • Sebastian Brian Mehr

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© 2021 Dyan Williams