We usually think of stress as something unpleasant, harmful and unproductive. It raises your blood pressure and creates all sorts of physical and mental problems. You may spend a lot of time working out how to reduce your stress levels. But not all stress is bad. You need some of it in your life in order to succeed.
- How stress pushes you onwards
- Stress increases your ability to cope
A NEW ATTITUDE TO STRESS
Planning how to get rid of stress, with spa days and holidays, chats with friends, therapy sessions and, more importantly, with those big life choices involving career and relationships may take lots of your attention. In fact your worry about your stress levels and the effect they are having on you could well be a major stress in itself! But what if you took a different attitude? Maybe stress could help you rather than harming you, and could even be your friend.
Stop worrying about your increased heart-rate, your headaches and tight chest. Certainly don’t worry about sleeplessness, because that will lead to even poorer sleep. Instead realise that stress can work for you, and that it’s essential to success.
STRESS PUSHES YOU ONWARDS
Without a little bit of stress, would you ever achieve anything? If you weren’t worried about not achieving, if you didn’t have some tightness in your muscles preparing you for action, if you didn’t breathe a little quicker to fill your body with oxygen, would you ever get off the couch?
Next time you start to feel uptight, ask yourself what action is called for? Where is this stress pushing you? Instead of complaining about your stress, go with it and make a constructive move.
STRESS INCREASES YOUR ABILITY TO COPE
Small amounts of stress actually make you more resilient and more equipped to bounce back from difficult situations in the future. It encourages you to take care of yourself, build a supportive and informative network of contacts and take decisive action. Deal with stress by expanding your resources. So the next time a stressful situation appears you know you can cope and you may hardly feel uptight at all.
STRESS MAKES YOU CLEVER
Did you know that stress actually makes your brain grow? If you’re very stressed your brain has the ability to grow new nerve cells. This means that a certain amount of stress can improve your memory, enable you to learn new tasks more quickly and focus sharply. Presumably this is a survival mechanism. The brain may experience the stress as heralding danger and so expands to accommodate this. Whatever the case, rising to the demands of stress increases your intelligence. Be aware of this when you are mastering new skills and don’t try too hard to chill.
LOSE THOSE OLD HABITS
It’s important to stop telling yourself that stress is harming you and that you should find ways round it. Even more vital, stop thinking that because you get stressed there’s something wrong and you’re a lesser person than your laid back colleagues. Your stress may be what gives you the edge, if you accept it and work with it.
Probably you have been programmed by society to think your stress is bad, so you need to retrain your brain. When you feel uptight say ‘I totally embrace this feeling of tension and I am using it to my advantage.’ Repeat this phrase and use it to replace all the negative messages in your mind. Imagine the stress as an electrical force, sparking off all sorts of positive reactions and talents and soon your attitude will change.
BEFRIEND YOUR STRESS
Once you accept the fact that stress can work for you, you may invest energy in working out how to do this. That’s not productive and could increase stress unnecessarily. It’s much better to make a friend of your stress. It’s just part of life so sit with it, be patient and see what happens.
FIND THE SOURCE
When you feel stressed and you aren’t quite sure why, this can make you uneasy and be disempowering. But there is a reason for every stress-filled reaction, and if you can find the root cause you will be able to deal with it better. In addition, your self-knowledge will increase and you will have more tools.
Lets take as an example a situation where you find your boss creates immense stress in you, but you aren’t sure why. A bit of self-questionning reveals that he or she reminds you of a parent with whom you had a difficult relationship. Once you can dissociate your boss from this parent you will find them easier to deal with. You will have grown in self-awareness and be well equipped to deal with anything similar that crops up much more quickly. So stress leads to self-knowledge, which is the most important quest of all.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Stress is a major factor in modern life and we’ve looked at its benefits. Finding new attitudes, how stress helps you cope, pushes you onwards and makes you clever are topics covered. You’ve learned how to lose your old habits, befriend your stress and find the root cause. All of these strategies and perspectives are helpful, but if you are hyper-stressed you may need more reassurance. Calm down and find peace with our serene and wise Readers who can show you different ways of looking at things and that there really is nothing at all to worry about.
PUBLISHED: 14 September 2017