The Right Amount of Stress

It is hard to know in a drought how much supplemental water for the vegetable garden is too much, and how much is too  little.  We err on the side of overindulgence. Our recent water bill is testimony to our generosity.  I worry that our pole beans, full and tall on their poles, have yet to produce flowers due to our over watering and not allowing them to feel stress.  I worry our peppers are responding the same way, with very few fruits as yet. Here is a photo of the pole beans with potato plants in the foreground.

Babies born to diabetic mothers often have underdeveloped lungs due to  the  glucose-rich uterine environment  which lacks the normal “stress” of less sweet amniotic fluid. Children who have few expectations don’t fare as well as their peers who have expectations.

It has been stressful at my work due to difficulty hiring staff. I can’t believe that the stress is doing me any good.

I think that a  little bit of stress is necessary for all good development, be it for plants or people.  The trick is discerning the right balance.  Oh that we could thrive without stress!

What do you consider the good stress in your life? The not so good stress? How do you find a balance?

33 thoughts on “The Right Amount of Stress”

  1. An artistic friend once explained that she could not begin a project until she had procrastinated enough to make meeting the deadline a true challenge. Then, faced with failure, she suddenly felt enough stress to dive into the work.

    I had no trouble believing her, for that is precisely how I met writing deadlines during three decades as a freelance writer. It wasn’t possible to write until I was frightened. Then, when the deadline seemed almost too imminent to meet, the words would flow.

    My friend and I had identical habits of delaying an assignment until we were just scared enough to bear down. It felt like we both needed to find that elusive sweet spot of being scared but not too scared to function.

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    1. When I have a writing or design assignment, I can’t relax until I know it’s done, so I do it right away. Sometimes I sit on the completed work for a couple of days so the client doesn’t get the idea it was too easy.

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      1. I envy you for that. I have deadlines for finishing psychological evaluations (30 calendar days from the date of the testing to the completed report) and I am notorious for waiting until the last minute to dictate the report. In my defense, I have been enabled in this by secretaries who would drop everything and transcribe quickly for me. Now that we are so short staffed at work I can’t expect that degree of coddling from the support staff so I force myself to dictate reports at least a week before they are due. I hate to admit that it is less stressful.

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        1. can you submit a bill for having it done?
          fivrr will allow you to get it typed up from a dictated for under 5 dollars. no dak should be willing to cover that i would guees. call it office supplies

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        1. the book on managment i enjoyed most had to do with catching your employees and partners doing something right. i’ll bet you caught joel doing lots of things right

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      2. I need to explain that my system of using stress to get an assignment done had an element of quality control built into it. I didn’t wait until I was forced to slap something together. I waited until there was just enough time to do it well (with all the editing that is central to writing well).

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      3. I used to be much more blasé about deadlines when I worked at agencies and had account executives to explain why my work was late. Since going freelance 20+ years ago, I realized I was the one who would have to deliver that news to the client and that was enough for me to change my ways.

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        1. I should add that, with things like home improvement projects, I can procrastinate with the best of them. That’s especially true if it’s not a case of something broken but rather something with no specific urgency.

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  2. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    I am a proponent of Bill’s style. Early on I did the “wait for the stressful deadline inspiration” then tired of that kind of stress. I also noticed that this caused me to produce careless, sloppy work. I work slowly on projects like writing or artwork. Under stress I make too many errors. I like to be in front of the the thing, do the work, correct the errors which I have I only catch when not under stress.

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    1. I love the header picture. I have one or two posts to write–I have just been so busy. I will try to get those to you Renee. Thanks for keeping this going.

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  3. Good stress to me is the stress of accomplishing something by a certain deadline, either self-imposed or from an exterior source. Bad stress is worrying about anything out of my control–like whether North Korea will officially become the stupidest nation in the world and launch a nuke toward anywhere outside their borders. Five minutes after that happens (if it does) North Korea will experience the mother of all TEOTWAWKI. 😉

    Another way of saying that is stress I put upon myself is okay. Stress that others try to dump on me is not okay.

    Chris in Owatonna

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  4. Once I was forced to take a job with a totally unreasonable deadline.

    My theory of personality was much like the one presented in the Pixar movie, Inside Out. I thought of myself as a collection of colleagues who work together under the somewhat inattentive supervision of a central leader. One of those colleagues is the nexus of creativity, the part of me I somewhat jokingly call “my muse.” The leader–such as he is–is “Steve.”

    Faced with the wacko deadline, the controlling personality cracked the whip and ordered my muse to go into high production. And that is when I learned something interesting.

    My muse gave me the one raised finger salute and kept to her own schedule. As the leader of the crew, I could force myself to work ten-hour days. And I did. But my muse refused to go along. She said she only worked “bankers’ hours,” and was only good for about five or six hours a day. I got nasty with her. Then she showed me that if I made her write eight or ten hours straight, half of it would be crap that I would have to throw out.

    The battle between Steve and his muse was won by the muse. Creativity has its limits. It just won’t work overtime, and forcing it to crank out more volume just leads to more crap that I have to throw away.

    The basic Inside Out model is accurate. But with time I have learned that the components of personality (especially creativity) are unique entities that must be respected and led gently.

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  5. On July 1, I switched auto insurance companies and went with “Flo”. They have an app called Snapshot that monitors my driving. It can tell what my habits are. I’m accumulating positive points by not speeding, accelerating too quickly and braking hard. It’s a little stressful in that inner city driving often requires maneuvers of which “Flo” disapproves but save me from an accident. But I’m supposed to receive a reduced rate sometime in the future, so the stress of occasionally getting on her bad side will be worth it.

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    1. I did that test when I was in Saint Paul. The first time I did it I got demerits for hard braking. That angered me, for much of that was forced on me by traffic and the timing of the lights. To my surprise, Flo told me I could retake the test. That time I did better and got reduced rates for it.

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      1. I just remembered that during my first Snapshot test I drove to my cabin along Lake Superior with Linda as a passenger. Several Baboons met up there for a sort of party. On the return trip I had to hit the brakes hard somewhere west of Port Wing because there was a lynx skulking in the bush just south of Highway 13. Flo’s company later told me I’d been indiscreet with my braking. I countered by telling them I had to hit the brakes when an endangered species was about to cross the road! I don’t think that’s why they let me retake the test, though. 🙂

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  6. That’s interesting about the watering, Renee – I’ll pay more attention to that balance.

    I usually procrastinate some, but not till the very last minute, creating just the right amount of stress to get me going. A lot of my current stress has been self-imposed till lately, when Husband started on the crutches. Family visitors for family days added some right before that, and the Lyme disease fallout – I have now developed an arthritis “bump” on my lower thumb joint that is painful most of the time, and I wonder if it is stress related (or Lyme related).

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  7. I suppose it’s a good stress for me to have the deadline of Aug. 14 to get my photo greeting card and business card order done because who knows when I would get it done if I didn’t have the 25% off sale to motivate me. But I spent all my prep time working on the greeting cards and forgot about the business card, so now I’ve got the bad stress of trying to figure out style, font, and what information for the business card, all of which seems a little lame to me since it’s really just a (serious) hobby and not a business yet (maybe not ever) – but it needs to be done so here I am sitting in front of the computer for hours working on it and feeling like I really don’t know what I’m doing. Fun times.

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      1. Thank, tim, but I think it’s working out. Two daughters and son-in-law gave some input and I’ve got the photo and design down, next I will play around with a couple different fonts, probably keep my first choice (helvetica) and then I just have to drag and drop it into the order form and I’ll be done. I got the greeting card order done yesterday.

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  8. I’ve said for many years that I want to be more involved in our vegetable gardens, and since Husband’s new crutches, I am finally getting my chance. No more procrastinating, the veggies won’t wait. If I don’t get out there and pick the tomatoes, find and dislodge the zucchini, dig the carrots, they will go to waste and rot. Mother Nature’s good at creative positive stress.

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  9. my stress comes from the bad habit i have of listening to my soul and not my brain. i am like a kid in a candy store out the in the world and i want more more more. the idea of choosing the amount of input that is possible for me to respond to without over commiting is a concept i may get some day but not now.
    i need to get stuff done but i have all this other stuff over there that is a ball in the air that may be killing me but i try not to let it drop.

    all my life people have suggest to me that i foicus on one area and stop being so 1 mile wide and one inch deep. maybe it would be less stressful but then again who needs another version of that guy. im still trying to ge this one right. damn it

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