Run Towards Your Stress and Be Better at It.
We all aspire to have a comfortable life — happy, chill, and stress-free. This is me talking about how I want to see my life in general. But I recognize that life comes as a package; happiness, sorrow, health, and sickness are all part of it. And this only means we couldn’t skip, if not eliminate, a “stressful” moment in our lives.
Yes, stress is present almost every time, an unavoidable reality of life. It triggers our biological responses causing physical, emotional, or psychological strains to our bodies. As I could always hear, ‘stress is bad for our health,’ which is true because it perpetuates common diseases like heart and autoimmune illnesses. If only we could stay away from it or delete it from our lives, life would be better, but it is not always the case.
Many of us indulge in various ways to eliminate stress or just by destressing from all the problems and challenges we face. Until I recently learned interesting research about making friends with your stress.
As a person trying to live by this principle that “mindset is everything — so choose what you believe and what is helpful for your growth,” this study I discovered will support this belief and hold it as true.
This study suggested that:
Stress may only be bad for you if you believe it to be the case.
Psychologist Kelly McGonigal talked about this study and explained so well the essence of its results during her TED talk presentation. The study was to monitor 30,000 adults in the United States for eight years, were asked how much stress they have experienced in the previous year and whether it is harmful to their health.
The result was incredible; those who responded that stress does not harm their health had the lowest risk of dying soon within the given period.
As she explained it:
People who experienced a lot of stress but did not view stress as harmful were no more likely to die soon than people who experienced a lot of stress in the previous year with a 43% increased risk of dying and believed that stress is harmful to their health. The first had the lowest risk of dying of anyone in the study, including people who had relatively little stress.
It was enthralling when I heard the conclusion of the study. Changing how we think about stress can make us healthier as well. This is not a random positive thought we affirm to ourselves despite the trials we encounter because this conclusion is backed by science. As she implied:
When you change your mind about stress, you can change your body’s response to stress.
Now that is a mindset.
“I get stress when I am not stressed.”
It sounds ironic. That was my initial reaction when I heard these words shared by a well-known preacher and author in the Philippines. He quoted this from his conversation with a notable billionaire businessman of the country. But listening more to the businessman’s story, I found it profound, enlightening, and even convinced that everything starts from what is in our head. It is a statement that embodies a problem to solve attitude.
A lot of very successful people have this same attitude. They see a problem as an opportunity to grow, recharge, expand, and win. They run towards stress.
Let me share with you the truths about the stress that I learned.
- We need a level of stress to be happy in life. This stress is not the kind that makes us feel burnout and make us sick eventually, but rather stress that is enough to make us excited, challenged to learn and grow. It is a type of stress which drives us to become better. Something that inspires and motivates us.
- Our perspective determines our stress level — meaning to say it is not about the gravity of our problem, nor how many storms are lashing out our entire life. No. Instead, we perceive and think about the challenges we encounter and assess the stress we have to deal with. It is about our perspective.
- Our faith can determine our perspective towards stress. Sometimes our problems can give us a myopia effect. We tend only to see what is right in front of us, our unfavorable circumstances and limitations. But what faith does gives us a broader picture, a wider perspective, and a long-term vision of the trials we faced. What faith does, is to let us hold on to trust God, who is bigger than any of the things causing us stress.
If we want to grow and succeed in the different areas of our life, we have to learn to embrace inconvenience, uncomfortableness. We need to embrace stress.
Embracing stress is a matter of how we think, perceive, and act. A problem to solve attitude and believing it will not harm us can transform our experience of stress.
I wouldn’t necessarily ask for more stressful situations in my life, but these lessons have given me a better appreciation of stress. It gives access to our hearts. It can provide happiness and fulfillment.
We need to trust ourselves to overcome life’s challenges and trust in handling the stress that follows. Most of all, remember we don’t have to face them alone.
How did you make friends with stress? Share your thoughts.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Katierene Ross