The Problem of Low Pressure: Give Yourself More Stress!

    Interestingly, too few demands or too little pressure can lead to distress. This is evidenced in the research on sedentary behavior, which shows that a lifestyle of sitting with minimal movement and activity increases the risk of various cancers and is more dangerous to the body than smoking (Schmid and Colditz 2014). Just as too much exercise might lead to injury, too little movement can also have a negative effect. Each person must find their balance. Boredom and apathy can take a toll on your body and mind. They can set you up for a pattern of not challenging yourself and avoiding situations that might contain any modicum of stress, rigor, or sustained effort. A bored or apathetic person does indeed have strength capacities they can access and activate to become engaged. If you feel you are lost in a low-pressure lifestyle, you might be languishing—simply going through the motions of life and not feeling very good mentally and not connecting much socially. This is what happened to Hank, a thirty-eight-year-old man with a girlfriend and no kids, who was laid off from his job as a construction worker. He lived in a small town where work was scarce. Rather than looking for a different line of work that might suit his abilities and strengths, he turned to his couch. He felt confused, disengaged, and discouraged. This was reinforced by two of his former coworkers, who’d also been laid off and took a similar approach. Week after week went by, and Hank just sat around, went to bars, spent time with his girlfriend when she was off work, and hung out with friends. Occasionally, he looked at job postings online, but not with any serious effort. Hank thought he was living an easy, pressurefree life, with no demands and almost no responsibilities. But after a few months of this, he realized he was miserable. His inactivity had led to him not taking care of his body. It was not until he began to attend to his “mind” strengths, such as his curiosity and his desire to learn, that he was able to jump-start himself back on track. He used his character strengths to learn a new trade and attain an online certification. Furthermore, his curiosity also led him to pursue new interests, hobbies, and exercise routines. LOW-PRESSURE REMEDY: USE YOUR THINKING-ORIENTED STRENGTHS You’ll recall that the virtue of wisdom in the VIA Classification is stocked with cognitive, or thinking-oriented, strengths. These strengths of the mind include creativity, curiosity, judgment/critical thinking, love of learning, and perspective. Targeting these strengths can be useful in challenging yourself to experience more pressure in life and pursue areas of interest.
    Explore the questions below, each targeting a different character strength. Creativity. A key part of this strength is that it involves divergent thinking—coming up with many different ways to solve a problem. Take a moment to view the phenomenon of “low pressure” as a problem. Now list at least three ways you could solve this problem: Curiosity. Name something that is going well in your life (health, relationship, hobby, sport, art/music expression, family, work). Take a moment to be curious about this area. Be interested and intrigued by it. How did this area emerge for you? What has been your role in contributing to the positives in this area? How might the successes be expanded upon in your life? Explore your thoughts here: Judgment/Critical Thinking. Take a close look at a time, now or in the past, when you felt very low pressure. Examine the details of your life in low-pressure mode. What are/were the specific positive and negative elements of this time?
    Love of Learning. What topics or subject areas have always captured your interest? Don’t hesitate to write down anything that comes to mind. Be sure to consider areas that interested you five or ten years (or longer) ago. How might you reinvigorate one of these areas? Perspective. Consider a time when you experienced stress and it benefited you. What did you gain from the stressor? What did you learn? Taken together, these five strengths pack a lot of wisdom. This wisdom can most certainly be applied to low-pressure stress.
    Making Plans to Combat Stress If there’s one thing we know, it’s that we’ll all experience pressures and demands to some degree in life. Why not plan for your stressors? Map out how you will make the most of your strength capacities? Your character strengths are the central part of your overall capacity to tilt the stress equation in the right direction. They are the fuel that ignites your passions, talents, and resources. They are therefore essential to the management of pressure and capacity. For this activity, think of three stressors that you are experiencing right now or that you will likely experience in the next week—for example, coping with a tension headache, traveling to a city you’d rather not visit, or having a difficult meeting with your child’s teacher. Then, following the example given as a cue, map out how your various strength capacities can be tapped into or enhanced to manage the stress.
    Learn. Practice. SHARE. In this chapter, you’ve learned a variety of ways to boost your many capacities, including your character strengths, talents/abilities, interests, and resources, as well as to manage the pressures you are under. Your practice has involved examining stressors in new ways that align with your various capacities. Before moving on to chapter 4, consider this: What is most important for you to share with others right now? Share an insight, practice, or goal with one person. You might share the stress equation with a friend or discuss with your spouse how the two of you can increase your capacity together as a team. Explore your “share” below and note with whom you will connect:
    Wadifa Club
    writer and blogger, founder of Dog food planet .

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