Today’s post comes to you from Casey Meehan, a writer and business owner who loves to talk about all types of topics including personal development items. Enjoy!
We’ve been indoctrinated to believe that stress is a bad thing but this isn’t necessarily true. A plethora of research over the past few years is changing just about everything we thought we knew about stress.
In fact, psychologist Dr. Kelly McGonigal at Stanford University has found that people with high levels of positive stress have more meaningful lives. Good stress can be a force for good in your life. It can make you sharper, more connected, smarter, more successful, and even happier. It can optimize your performance in your personal life and at work.
Types Of Stress
There are two very different types of stress — eustress and distress — that we experience. Eustress is the technical term for positive stress which motivates you to continue working. Everybody needs a little bit of eustress in their life so that they can to continue to be productive, happy, motivated, and challenged. It’s when this good stress becomes unmanageable or unbearable that distress comes in.
Distress (bad stress) is when the positive stress becomes too much to cope with. When stress responses occur at high levels too frequently and aren’t terminated rapidly, they’re no longer positive and may lead to exhaustion or fatigue. The stress responses can at this point have wear and tear effect on the bodily systems and brain. Internal conditions, such as perceived emotional, physical or psychosocial stress, may also engage the same automatic responses — flee, freeze or fight.
Physiological symptoms of distress include generalized tension, high blood pressure, and rapid breathing. Behavioral symptoms include negative coping mechanisms, loss of appetite, overeating, drinking, and smoking.
How to Turn Stress into a Good Thing
According to an article on the concept of positive stress in the World Journal of Medical Sciences, distress and eustress can actually occur simultaneously upon encountering a stressor for the first time. Eustress is more likely to prevail if you previously had positive outcomes and experiences with stressful situations.
Some of the important factors which can help you view and respond positively to stressful situations include:
- Expectation of a reward.
- Belief in yourself and your ability to manage the stressor/task.
- A mindset and belief system of hope, a positive outlook on life and great expectations.
- Your perception that you have control and power over the situation.
- You expect the best of yourself and other people expect the same.
Reframe the stress
Once you have recognized what is causing the stress, adjust your mindset. Research shows that how a person views stress determines its effect on him. When you are worried and negative, your brain goes into fight-or-flight mode and this limits your ability to think. If you’re positive and concerned, then your brain turns to “build and broaden” thinking that allows you to process more possibilities.
There are six tactics you can use to turn negative stress into a positive experience:
1. Adopt a growth mindset
If you see your abilities and skills as fixed, you’re more likely to feel helpless in the face of new challenges or losses. Having a growth mindset means seeing life as a process instead of an outcome. You should think about the new skills you may require to deal with the stressful situation, and then make a plan on how you will learn and practice them. And persevere.
2. Take a moment for reflection
Whatever you allow to dominate your mind will become your reality. Stressful moments are the ideal time to reflect on what matters most in your life. If you welcome defeating thoughts into your mind, you will not be able to achieve success.
3. Reject perfectionism and reinterpret failure
Doing well doesn’t automatically translate into doing something perfectly, just as a less than perfect performance isn’t failure. Create a new interpretation of failure for yourself, i.e. failure is the refusal to attempt new things due to fear.
4. Just breathe
Breathing is an all-purpose stress reliever that is always available. Slow, full-rhythmic breathing will help you feel more in control of the situation and enable you to manage the stress.
5. Break the problem into manageable steps
A stressful situation may at times seem overwhelming to think of all at once. When we become overwhelmed, we’re more likely to avoid or procrastinate, instead of coping actively. It’s better to break the problem into smaller pieces and then solve those one at a time.
6. Imagine a positive future self
Project yourself into the future when the stressful situation is over and you’ve achieved the desired outcome. Create a mental image of yourself accomplishing your goal. To make it physical, create a vision board with photos that illustrate your goal and look at it each day for inspiration.
Casey Meehan is a writer and business owner who likes to talk about everything under the sun — from writing music to entrepreneurship to investment strategies. He explores the latter by covering financial news and offer trading tips at his blog StockHax. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn.
Over to you…
How do you manage your distress and what other ways can you turn your negative stress into positive stress?