Make Stress Work for You

Stress can be defined as the feeling that arises when something you care about is at stake, and many of us have been taught to try and “manage” our stress level or decrease the stress we experience altogether.

However, recent research is revealing more and more about the benefits of stress. They include fewer depressive episodes and health issues, and increased energy, satisfaction with your life, productivity at work, confidence and the ability to find meaning in difficult setbacks. How you think about stress, or stress mindset, has a big impact on the type stress response your body experiences. Consider your thoughts when you feel stressed or what you say about stress; which stress mindset sounds most like you?

Stress is Harmful! It -

  • Depletes my health and vitality
  • Hinders my performance and productivity
  • Blocks my learning and growth
  • The effects of stress are negative and should be avoided

Stress is Helpful! It -

  • Enhances my health and vitality
  • Promotes my performance and productivity
  • Facilitates my learning and growth
  • The effects of stress are positive and should be embraced

Dr. Kelly McGonigal’s research has highlighted a few critical pieces of information about stress that may surprise you.

  1. Your stress mindset determines the type of physiological stress response your body has. Remarkably there are different types of physiological stress responses, and each has a unique set of biological profiles and distinct benefits.
  2. You can reap the benefits of stress by learning how to change your mindset with a few simple exercises. Pause to reflect on a recent stressful experience you’ve had, and then consider if stress helped you (1) rise to a challenge, (2) connect with others, or (3) learn and grow once the experience had passed. Learn to notice your stress in the moment and embrace it. Don’t waste energy trying to ignore stress or decrease the stress in your life when we often have little control over the things t in our environment that trigger stress.
  3. Consider how the things that cause us stress can often hold the most meaning. If you removed everything in your life that causes stress, would you also be removing the most meaningful?

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