Forest Fire Direction: Eustress Me Out

Do you think stress is stressing you?

Stress is often called a negative experience. However, stress can actually have a positive effect. Positive stress is called "eustress" while negative stress is called "distress". Taken to the extreme, one or the other of these stressors can affect the human body.

Example: I am a mother without biological children. I love children and children love me. Teaching children has become my vocation and service. Seeing a child perform a task or make a connection in his brain provides great joy. Unfortunately, there was a period during which my cup melted and emptied the bottom at the same time. I found my distress replaced by distress. What gave me joy started to make me sick. In order to provide the best experience to my students, I have slowly lost the passion of teaching others and taking care of myself.

I am not an expert in stress. My goal with this blog is to plant a seed on how we talk about stress – that not all stress is good or bad, but there are two kinds of stress. I want readers to examine their situation and find ways to balance stress in their lives.

Stress (Leader in the forest fire departmentp. 47)

Representing a significant risk to safety and operational efficiency, stress can lead to reactions such as a tunnel vision or confusion that dramatically degrades situational awareness – within ourselves and within our staff.

  • To mitigate this risk, leaders act to mitigate the effects of stress by:
  • Understand our own reactions to stress – the triggers that trigger them, the symptoms, the mitigation measures to put in place to reduce them.
  • Monitor and prevent the accumulation of stress in their teams – openly discuss the causes of stress and possible mitigation measures.
  • Encourage team members to monitor each other by monitoring the stress reactions of others.

Leadership challenge in forest fires – Fucking a little further

  • In her TED video "How to Stress Your Friend," Kelly McGonigal explains how much the belief that stress can be as harmful to you as stress itself. McGonigal presents research on the subject and some ways to change your perception of stress to make you healthier.
  • Read the book by Kelly McGonigal The consequences of stress: why stress is good for you and how to do it right.
  • More information on stress research is available on the TED blog.

About the author: Pam McDonald is Editor-in-Chief for BLM Wildland Fire Training and Workforce Development and a member of the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee. The expressions are those of the author.