Stress Turns Out To Be Good For You! 3 Strategies You Need To Follow

Self

Put your stress to work for you.

It's common knowledge that, repeated over time, stress leads to problems with health, performance and wellbeing, including illness, missed days from work, depression, aggression and relationship problems.

If you're like most people, your mindset is geared toward getting rid of the stress or avoiding the problem. Who can blame us? Nobody likes that that sick-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach fight or flight feeling. Our response is usually denial (I'm fine!), anger (Why me!) or overwhelm (I can't handle this!).

But, oddly, recent research has shown that stress actually heightens awareness, speeds up thinking, improves performance and leads many to say, "I'm great in a crisis." It's why my clients suffering with anxiety tell me their worry helps them anticipate problems and envision potential solutions. It's how I know that adults who have faced hardships early in life can have tremendous reserves of strength to face current difficulties and often a greater appreciation for the gifts life has given them.

The discrepancy lies in the mindset we adopt when we face stress. For years we've been taught the stress-is-bad mindset. New research tells us, instead, to adopt a stress-is-good mindset.

Here's what you need to do to put your stress to work for you:

  1. Acknowledge your stress. Figuring out how you experience stress is your first step. What form does your stress response take? Is it that sick to your stomach feeling, a pounding headache or a desire to get in bed and pull up the covers, avoiding everything and everyone? Having you've identified your stress response, don't ignore it! Notice it each time it occurs, acknowledging that something is stressing you out. What is that something? What's creating your stress response? Now you can take steps to move forward.
  2. Use your stress. Once acknowledged, listening to your stress will help you know what you need to do. Employ the mindset of using the stress instead of waiting for it to go away or pretending it's not there. What needs to happen? What must you do to make that happen? Is there something you have to learn or someone whose help you need? Perhaps you have taken on too much, giving up your precious life-balance. Maybe you've been so busy taking care of others that you've forgotten to take care of yourself. Is it time for a new job? Can you use the issues with your girlfriend to figure out how to improve the relationship and determine if it's salvageable?
  3. Accept that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. We tend to rely on our typical stress management strategies when stress hits. You may do more yoga, running, meditation or other positive activities. On the negative side you may do more drinking, partying or sleeping. These positive and negative strategies help you avoid the message your stress is sending. Stress is a signal that you must heed. It's telling you something. So give it a big hello, invite it in and have a coffee with it while figuring out what the message is. Thank your stress for the opportunity it has offered. Accept the opportunity to welcome needed change into your life. Embrace your inner strength.

Stress can help you thrive, be brave and improve work and life performance. Are you feeling stress today? What can you do to solve the problem your stress is trying to communicate? How can you be great in a crisis?

Judith Tutin, PhD, ACC, is a licensed psychologist and certified life coach. Connect with her at drjudithtutin.com where you can request a free coaching call to bring more passion, fun and wellness to your life.

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