Module 2: Lesson 2
Getting Into The Eustress Zone (10 min)
> Manage stress levels down to your ideal eustress zone
Remember earlier when we mentioned how certain levels of stress can be good for you? The type of stress called eustress?
Well, the key part of our stress management framework strategy is to manage down your stress to a level that is more workable for you. It’s what we call, “getting into the eustress zone.”
You’ve probably heard the saying “in the zone”, especially in sports. It's also known as "flow state."
Using the sports example, it’s when the athlete is performing at their optimum. Everything they are doing seems effortless. Every move, step, shot, throw, catch etc. is right on. Everything is in synchronization and running perfectly.
Think back to a time when you were “in the zone" or in a "flow state" of mind. It doesn’t even have to be from sports. This can happen in our everyday lives.
It’s like those days when tidying up and cleaning the house seemed like a productive activity rather than a chore.
You’ve cleaned the floors, organized the messy piles, sanitized the bathroom, wiped down the kitchen, etc. You’re knocking out one task after another and another, all while the laundry machine and dishwasher are running.
You’re in a mental and physical state of task flow.
It even happens to us at work too.
It’s like the time when you put together that awesome Powerpoint presentation. You were able to clean up and compile all the data easily. You found the perfect supporting images online. The words for each bullet point were effortlessly flowing from thought to keyboard to screen. Hell, even the style and font formatting all went smoothly.
Suddenly, you realize that 3 hours just flew by and you forgot about eating lunch. But it didn't matter because it all got done in time with only a few minutes to spare. Bam, done!
In both of the above examples, you were in fact stressed, but in a good way. It got you to a heightened state of focus and you were fully immersed in the activity. Things were moving so well that the hours just flew by.
You were rockin’ and rollin’, baby!
You, my friend, were in the zone. It was rewarding, right?
When the challenges or pressures of your environment are matched up with your skills, capabilities and resources, you are more likely to “get in the zone” (green area in the graph below).
However, when your skills and capabilities are higher than what the environment or task requires, you get bored really easily (blue area).
Ever play tic-tac-toe with a six year old for more than a minute? Yup...yawn.
At the other end, if you don’t have the necessary skills, capabilities or resources to handle what the environment is throwing at you, you get stressed out (red area).
It’s like that ski trail you thought was a blue intermediate that turned out to be an expert black diamond, “Oh...My...God...holy shit! How am I going to get down this trail?!”
But if you can get to your particular sweet spot in the eustress zone, you'll enter that delicious flow state of mind. And, when you get there, it's blissful productivity.
This short video clip below hits the high points of what we're talking about.
John Spencer is a college professor and YouTuber that explains "Flow Theory" really well.
Watch the first few minutes (up until 3:45) - that's the most useful chunk. The last minute is focused on how to apply flow theory in the classroom, which doesn't really apply to us, but is informative nonetheless.
VIDEO: Flow Theory in Less Than Five Minutes
YOUTUBE CHANNEL: John Spencer
So, the big question is "How do you get into the eustress zone?"
The simple formula explains it quite nicely and it's the core of our stress management strategy.
METHOD + MINDSET + MAINTENANCE = EUSTRESS
Or alternatively, think of it as a three-legged stool. All legs equally support the chair. Without one of the legs, the stool wouldn't stand. You need all three for this work.
What we’re aiming to do here is to manage down your stress levels to better match your personal capabilities and resources.
We’ll do this through a 5 step process in this course:
1. Spot your stress symptoms and job stressors
2. Measure your stress levels
3. Apply the 4A method ("method" in the equation)
4. Change your mindset ("mindset" in the equation)
5. Maintain your stress immunities ("maintain" in the equation)
Steps 1 and 2 prepare you for the core parts of steps 3, 4 and 5. The end goal of this process is to help you get to a point where you have better control of stress at work.
We want to get you into the “eustress zone” or in a better "flow state" so that you’re not overly stressed, but healthy and productive.