Should you stress?

Casey Onder, PhD
2 min readJan 29


Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

Everyone wants less stress.


Not necessarily, especially Type A’s, DISC drivers, early entrepreneurs and corporate ladder climbers. If you have a habit of being distressed, in some ways you’re attached to it. You’re wired to “believe in it.” In its inevitableness and value.

I’m not saying we can avoid stress, though there are arguments that can be made there too.

And many times we create our own stress or make it worse, for example by:

  1. Taking on too much.
  2. Taking on others’ responsibilities (as a burden to us).
  3. Thinking and acting like it’s “never enough.”
  4. Focusing on gaps, glossing over strengths, success and progress. Freaking out about failure.
  5. Over managing teams/staff.
  6. Non goal oriented self judgment and criticizing.
  7. Seeing self acceptance as conditional.
  8. Pointing fingers and projecting problems to forces outside of our control.
  9. Staying angry or righteous over the past.
  10. Competing not from play and good sportsmanship, but from alienated superiority or hostility.

Self-created and perceived threats impact us the same as real ones: Our stress response turns on to “save the day.” Subjectively we feel vulnerable, we could be a goner. We’re ready to take swift action or play dead. Our bodies think: Our genes and children depend on us!

There is a huge literature on chronic stress and its negative health impacts.

Likewise there is evidence that a critical lever for stress interventions is your mindset — about ourselves, the world, and stress in general.

Research suggests that experiences of excitement and fear result from the exact same physiological response. And that one’s mindset towards stressful events has a big impact on lifelong health outcomes.

Bottom line, our beliefs and their embodiment influence how we metabolize stress and face challenges. If you see yourself in the list of 10 above, or suspect you’re doing yourself a disservice when it comes to stress levels, consider getting supported so you can get out of your own head (or into the inner workings of your head), performing at your peak and feeling better. Think and do out of the stress box, with new perspectives and approaches.

All the above said, an important caveat: Please don’t deny your experiences or past events, much less the experiences of others. This is unkind and ineffective. Stay empathic, and deeply respectful of different experiences and points of view. Stress responses are adaptive and reasonable at least in their original context.

When stress arises, the question is not whether your mindset is “right” or “wrong” (unless you’re seeking justice).

It’s whether it’s kind, helpful and a good example — for yourself and others.

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Casey Onder, PhD

Psychologist, success coach, believer in solid behavioral science and the power of tuning in.