“In times of great stress or adversity, it's always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.” -Lee Iacocca
Are you stressed out? Good. Here’s why you should learn how to embrace stress as an opportunity… and it all comes down to perception.
While it’s well known that too much stress can be hard on both the body and mind, a certain level of stress can be a good thing. Positive stress is actually known as eustress. This is the type of stress experienced while planning your wedding or starting a new job. While the necessary actions involved in these kinds of life events can be stressful, the overall outcome is a positive one.
The effect of these differing kinds of stressors have essentially the same effect on the body and mind. But even ordinary stress, when framed from the right perspective, can be viewed as an opportunity for personal growth. Though uncomfortable, learning to handle the stressors of daily life and work is necessary to achieve success (Gallo, 2011).
Recall that old mantra, practice makes perfect. The first step to handling stress is simply to accept that it is both a necessary and natural part of the human experience. Anxiety and fear are engrained in us through evolution, for a reason. Fear is simply a protective mechanism designed to keep you safe from harm. Sometimes stress is a perfectly reasonable response to external stimuli due to the perceived possible consequences of an event.
However, this response has positive benefits on the body and mind. The brain releases a chemical called adrenaline in response to stress. This increases heart rate and puts you in a heightened state of awareness that allows you to think and make decisions more quickly, while at the same time improving your overall memory. This is known as the fight or flight response. Though uncomfortable at first it can be mastered and used to your advantage in life.
We remember best the events that cause us stress. While too much stress can result in a permanent disorder, commonly known as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, the stress normally experienced in everyday life typically does not result in this semi-permanent state of hyper awareness. Learning to handle typical stress can improve your overall memory and decision-making process.
The key here really is finding balance. This can be achieved by focusing on the stressors that will result in the most positive outcomes first, while eliminating as many negative stressors from your life as possible. While it is impossible to avoid all unserving stressors in life, such as the death of a loved one or illness, it is possible to prepare for these events in order to experience as few negative consequences of said events as possible. Preparation—combined with the awareness that stress can often be used as a positive learning tool—will improve the overall likelihood of you achieving success in life and work.
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What To Remember:
With mindful awareness, you can control how you respond to stress.
Some stress is actually good for us. It serves as powerful motivation.
By recognizing that stress is an opportunity, you may improve your overall life experience.
- Wolbie, Susie. (May, 2015). Using Stress as an Opportunity for Growth. Huffpost.com.
- Ohio State University. (August, 2020). How to Turn Stress into a Growth Opportunity. Fishe.osu.edu.
- Parker, Clifton. (May, 2015). Embracing stress is more important than reducing stress, Stanford psychologist says. News.Stanford.edu.
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