How Much Is Too Much?

Imagine that on Nov. 6, 2012 YOU are elected to be the President of the United States of America! Imagine how your life will change when you become the President, Imagine all the new decisions that you will have to make or be consulted upon to make…decisions that could change, save, or even cost lives…Imagine the increase in the amount of stress you will have in your life…when you become the President.

It’s true that Presidents, political leaders and corporate CEOs for example, are all faced with countless crucial decisions that they must make on a daily basis, and those decisions can be very stressful. One of the things that so vividly illustrated this point to me was the TV show called “The West Wing,” which debuted in Sept. of 1999. It was a show that I watched religiously almost every week for 3 years and it changed my life!

If youre not familiar with it, the show was set int the west wing of the White House and centered around the fictitious administration of President Jed Bartlett. Each episode was filled with situations whereby the President or one of his staff had to make decisions that  dramatically impacted people’s lives. Needless to say, along with those decisions came a high degree of stress. While the show also captured moments of joy, laughter, celebration, tenderness, and even silly child-like antics, the drama that is the life of a President, was the focal point.

As I continued to be seduced by the show over the years, I eventually began to wonder how people like Jed Bartlett could handle so much every day in the same 24 hours of time that I have.  I finally realized that the key to doing this successfully was my “attitude.” What I mean by that is, when I’m having what I consider to be a stressful day, I believe I myself contribute to the stress level I incur because of my attitude. I convince myself, for example, that no human should have to endure so much in one day, and therefore I deserve a beer and maybe lots and lots of chocolate for doing so. Consequently, my attitude, and the behavioural choices I make because of my attitude, can affect how stress impacts me and my body.

Theresno question that the decisions that folks like you and me, political leaders and CEOs, have to make during a day can create a lot of personal stress, and we know that stress can have a significant effect on us physiologically. Just consider stress-related symptoms like; insomnia, headaches, back and neck pain, heartburn, nausea, anxiety, tics, and a host of other things. Is it just our bodies that come into play here though?

But what about the brain? What role does our brain have in triggering these physiological symptoms? Can our attitude, or in other words, what we think about stress, limit the negative impact it has on our bodies? I did some research on these questions and came across a Dr. Jeffrey DeGroat, a clinical psychiatrist and stress specialist, who suggests that how we approach stress, in terms of our attitude, will either cause us problems, or allow us to grow. Who am I to argue with a clinical psychiatrist?

So how much is too much? Well, what is stopping you from handling more stress on a day-to-day basis like President Jed Bartlett and other leaders in society have done? What is stopping you from changing your attitude towards all the things that come at you on any given day? What is stopping you from turning those stressful situations into opportunities for growth as indicated by Dr. DeGroat?

How much is too much? Well, if we’re willing to change our attitude, and look at stress as opportunity, we can raise the bar and the sky’s the limit!

A sample of what the President in The West Wing has to deal with…