We all hate the “s” word, right? That uneasy feeling you get when things just aren’t going your way? For most of us, stress is a dirty word. It’s something we work to avoid at all costs, and often it’s something we can’t cope with when it hits us. We’ve been taught all our lives to strive for a stress-free lifestyle, to avoid stressful situations by any means necessary. But is this really the way to approach stress? Can’t stress be a positive thing? In its simplest form, exercise is a form of stress on the body and helps us lead healthier, longer lives. Working under a deadline often produces the best creative work. The “fight or flight” response is what motivates star athletes to push it to the limit every single day. And for procrastinators like myself, we shine under pressure. So is stress really something to be completely eliminated from our lives? My answer is no. Rather, I think we need to re-evaluate the way we look at stress and learn to embrace it instead of fear it.
Studies have shown that the way people perceive stress has a significant impact on the way it affects them. Reacting to stress with the typical mentality that it is something to dread will often elicit those feelings. Conversely, using the feeling of stress as a trigger that it’s time to step up and perform can lead to increased motivation and increased output. There is no reason to fear stress; it’s a natural part of life that is never going away. The trick is to break the cycle of habitual worry and channel our stress into energy and determination, if nothing else, to get rid of whatever is causing the stress. Here are some tips for handling stress and turning it into something positive:
Breathe. You aren’t going to get anything done if you can’t settle down and get it done. Take some deep breaths, focus your mind on the task at hand and get it done. The hardest step is the first step; center your thoughts and you’ll be amazed at how much clearer the path becomes.
Stop multitasking. We pride ourselves on it, but multitasking by definition is doing multiple things at once without dedicating 100 percent of your energy and focus to any of them. Get yourself in front of one task at a time and finish it before starting the next one. You’ll end up saving yourself some time.
Allot the appropriate amount of stress to the situation. If you’re about to be late to a nail appointment or a gym session, it isn’t quite the same as missing an international flight or being late to an interview. Accept the situation, make a mental note not to let it happen again and move on with your day. I guarantee you, there are more important things to worry about.
Allow yourself those little wins. You deserve it! When you finish a task, pat yourself on the back and allow yourself a few moments to enjoy it. Then get back to work.
Learning to channel that nervous energy into positive stress can make the difference between finishing strong and not finishing at all. Being stressed means you have important things you need to do, so do them!
Embrace stress today. Learn to master your stress and you’ll well on your way to mastering your life!
Photo Credit: lukeroxasblog.com