(Reading this takes only about 3 minutes) 🙂
If you came to this page, you or someone you care about is probably stressed out right now. Maybe it’s just because you’ve forgotten how bad*ss you are… That’s ok, we’ll help you remember and get you back on your A-game today. Plus, there are a couple of tools that you can use any time you need to face the day in spite of your anxiety.
If you’re feeling stressed, your wild, racing thoughts might sound a little like this…
“My life is a mess…”
“I need to lose 20 pounds…”
“My friends aren’t being nice…”
“People don’t support my goals…”
You could probably add to the pile I’m sure. But that’s not what we’re here to focus on right now.
This sort of stuff runs rampant through everyone’s heads from time to time — even those happy-go-lucky unicorn people. (Uhuh, happy people get stressed, too). You’re not a crazy weirdo for feeling this way (so there’s one less thing to worry about). So, now that you know you’re at least not alone, how do you deal with the rest of the stuff making life hell right now?
The way you see stress can change your entire life. That’s no over statement, I promise. I choose to see stress as a good thing sometimes, and it has changed the way I handle tough life events, feeling scared, or overwhelmed, and I get a lot more done now than I ever have thinking this way. I’ll tell you why I think stress is in fact a good thing in a sec. But first…
Let me ask if you this:
Is what you’re stressed about worth the stress? I ask this not trying to discredit real, heavy or dark matters going on behind the scenes. Remember, stress takes a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual toll on your whole being, so some stuff isn’t worth it… More often than not, the stuff we get stressed about is because we perceive that we’re threatened more than we think.
Think for a minute which category are you dealing with?
Can the things on your plate be dealt with in any way — even if the idea seems far out right now? Is your time better spent stressing, or doing?
(Take a sec to think about this then go on.)
If you can see some sort of solution in the distance (even if it seems crazy now), the fact that you came up with anything at all can be radically empowering… There’s something to be done, and that’s not always the case. You might even consider yourself lucky to have that…
“I may be stressed, but I can do something about it…” might be a good mantra to stick into your thoughts whenever you feel that panicky feeling sneaking in. The worst thing to do when you’re stressed is nothing.
Inaction is often the most stressful thing we can put ourselves through.
Back to that question — So if you say “no, right now, there’s nothing I can do to handle what is stressing me out,” I really challenge you to think of something crazy. Go from wild and narrow it down to practical stuff if you have to.
What if it could be dealt with? What the heck would that look like? Can this thing be broken down into tinier and more manageable steps? You’ll get to the next steps later, but what would be the first one? That first step is often just the hardest and sometimes the rest is a breeze!
If you can find an answer, even if you just use your imagination for now, you just beat the system. You turned your stress into something actionable, which is the first step in wiping it out.
So — circling back to why I think stress a good thing — I’ll use science to connect some more dots here.
In psychology, stress can be thought of as something called “negative reinforcement.” Another example of it would be if you were training a dog and you put bad tasting spray on your shoes so the pup doesn’t chew them. It’s a negative “consequence” for a certain action. Stress is not a shameful consequence though, rather one that is meant to help you grow… kind of like your fight or flight instinct which causes stress that is used to keep you alive.
In your case, your action, or maybe inaction is causing you stress. You can use it to your advantage because it sucks, like that spray… Use it to fuel your desire to find solutions rather than stall you, keeping you stressed longer. (Training your mind to find solutions is a secret weapon in being more optimistic, anyway. It’s a win-win.)
I don’t let stress get the best of me. I let it get the best from me.
Stuff can be stressful, but it’s stressful for a reason. It’s a motivator — just one that uses negative reinforcement instead.
Another way to use stress to your advantage:
There will always be stuff to be stressed about it life, and it’s exhausting to feel the weight pile up when you think about every single thing you have to deal with. So why not save that energy for the big stuff and just handle the rest? The reality is, we only have so much capacity to do so many things at once so it’s pointless to think about each thing at the same time, or stall yourself by “spinning” from one thing to the next in your mind.
If there’s a solution, find it. These problems are temporary. It’s the Universe’s job to throw us all curve balls, and it’s our job to dodge them, put up with them, make the best out of them, and get better at hitting them so we can handle the next ones easier. And good thing, as we humans, we’re built for it.
Good luck, friends.
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