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Bad stress indicators

November 06, 2006 @ 23:44 By: gordon Category: General

There is both good stress and bad stress. Good stress is positive, productive energy and a necessary part of life. Bad stress is the negative, destructive energy that should be avoided, yet is often hard to avoid.

Paul Tomblin’s recent blog entry about stress that’s he’s experiencing because of work got me thinking about bad stress and how it manifests itself in me. Ignoring the dangerously excessive levels of stress that I experienced in the last half of 2005, particularly August 2005, which were brought on by everything that could go wrong simultaneously going wrong at work and had physiological manifestations, I’ve noticed that when I’m stressed I tend to acquire Toys. The magnitude of the toy is directly proportional to the magnitude of the stress.

At one particularly stressful point in my life, the “toy” took the form of learning to fly. Learning to fly was something I’d always wanted to do, but I think the impetus was multifold and included having the means (i.e. money) and the time. The actual stressor was probably the single largest stress event I’d experienced to-date at that point in my life: the death of someone close to me.

I’ve learned to distinguish between toy acquisition due to stress and toy acquisition because it’s a toy. The former often involves impulsively looking for something that might make me happy, while the latter is more thought out and not as impulsive. When I catch myself looking to get a new “toy” for no readily explainable reason (i.e. the burning need to buy “something”), I try to stop and figure out what the underlying cause is.

That having been said, I do like new “toys”, so don’t automatically assume that I’m stressed if you see me with a new gadget. 🙂

3 Responses to “Bad stress indicators”


  1. Paul Tomblin says:

    For me, stress and toys are proximate only because stressful situations at work are often accompianied by overtime pay. The overtime pay is what leads to the desire to spend some of it on me, me and only me. Like my 17″ Powerbook. And my 60Gb iPod. And my last trip to Oshkosh.

    • gordon says:

      Interesting link, Paul. I hadn’t really thought about that before, but it makes sense.

      (Nothing like commenting on something 3 years later, eh? :))

  2. Zartimus says:

    Hmm. I call it having GAS or “Gear Aquisition Syndrome” (a throwback from my music days).

    I must be really stressed…



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