We have been programmed to perceive stress as a negative emotion. But stress has gotten a bad rap…When perceived with the right frame of mind, stress can actually be our friend.
Remember when you studied all night for that presentation you nailed the next day? How about that time you found out guests were on their way over and you cleaned the house in 10 minutes flat? That was your friend, stress.
According to Kelly McDougal, the author of The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It...The better relationship we have with stress, the healthier and more successful we can be.
According to a recent study Researchers asked 30,000 adults how much stress they felt in the past year – and whether or not they thought stress was a negative. Eight years later the scientists circled back…and yes, the high stress people were 43% more likely to have died…But only if they believed stress was bad for their health.
From the “Upside of Stress”: People who reported high levels of stress but who did not view their stress as harmful were not more likely to die. In fact, they had the lowest risk of death of anyone in the study, even lower than those who reported experiencing very little stress. The researchers concluded that it wasn’t stress alone that was killing people. It was the combination of stress and the belief that stress is harmful.
Handled properly, stress can make us smarter and more successful. It can make life more meaningful. It can even makes us more compassionate and kind. But the difference between good stress and bad stress lies in our mindset.
Stress is bad when we see it as bad. “Stress is what arises when something you care about is at stake.” You don’t stress much about stuff that you don’t perceive as important.
Hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, are emotional amplifiers of your physiology. They amp you up, but whether that’s a positive (excitement) or bad (anxious) is dependent on your mindset.
Embrace the excitement. It’s not a crisis – it’s a strong cup of coffee. Channel times you’ve succeeded in times of crisis as fuel to handle the situation at hand.
Remind yourself that stress is a helper: when you’re having physiological changes, remind yourself those physiological changes are actually a nitrous system for your brain. Change “I’m so stressed!” to “Ahh, I’m so stressed.”
Doing an activity that forces your brain to completely focus on something else, allows your brain to decompress and relax. Aerobic activity releases your brain’s feel-good natural hormones called, endorphins and helps soothe and reduce the negative effects of stress.