Far too often we get trapped in our own little cycle of thoughts. Some are true, some are exaggerated, some are just unnecessary and some are completely wrong.
By now, I’ve explained how critical perspectives are. I’d like to help change your mindset towards a very common foe; stress. I shouldn’t be using the term foe at all, in fact it’s our ally more than anything.
Let’s unravel how building a relationship with stress, can boost our performance in pretty much every aspect of our life. And how our relationships can also help us better deal with it.
I’ll start start with a few negative aspects regarding stress.
The statistics are quite staggering. Stress is absolutely detrimental to your health. Here are a few of the risks associated with chronic stress:
- Mental health issues
- Cardiovascular disease
- Intense headaches
- Weakened immunity
This isn’t meant to scare you (or maybe it is idk). I’m just trying to shed some light on a very common subject. The negative effects are associated only when you believe that being stressed is bad for you. So the aim is to try and optimize that belief.
But can a simple change in perspective really minimize the negative effects? -Absolutely.
Here’s a TED talk I highly recommend if you have the time:
You should also know by now that I’ve started to fall in love with questions. So what is stress?
“Stress is your body’s reaction to any change that requires a response.”
I quite like how brief that description is. We pretty much feel stressed all the time. It comes in various forms & at multiple stages, but it’s always somewhere there. It’s what forces us out of bed every morning. It’s what pushes us to study for our exams and get done with our tasks.
The key to problem solving, lies in having great awareness of the issue. This would also include having a good understanding of what you’re capable of doing. Largely, what we know about stress is that feeling when we have a substantial amount of work to do, and not a lot of time to do it. We get a little panicky, impatient, slightly (or highly) irritable.
So the first step would be to become aware of those feelings. Accept them as part of your body’s natural response. Don’t think about it as being bad for you.
The next question is: How much of stress do we need?
The mind works in marvelous ways. I’ve always been fascinated by how quickly we adapt to uncomfortable situations. There’s a very narrow gap between having just enough stress to be motivated, and that overflowing into stress that damages our health.
Each person works effectively under different circumstances. Therefore, there can’t really be a definitive answer to how much stress we need.
Identify it for yourself, through building some form of self-awareness. Determine how much stress pushes you to work, and how much stress pushes you overboard.
Think of stress as your back-up response. Your personal SOS. Your subconscious dial for 911. It’s your ally! It’s there to help you, as long as you keep it in check.
I love talking to people about perspective changing, because it’s honestly what has helped me change so much in my own life. Now, I’m going to ask another very important question: How do we learn to deal with stress?
The minute you start ignoring the signals your body sends you, that’s when stress starts getting out of control. A few key important steps:
- Notice how your breathing changes (breathe in more deeply)
- Be aware of your thought patterns (stay present)
- Focus on the task at hand (back yourself)
- Imagine the feeling of relaxation once it’s over (you will survive!)
- Socialize 🙂
Apart from the aforementioned points, immerse yourself in the present moment by practicing something you really enjoy. Clear your mind with exercise, watching a sunset, reading an interesting book, watching your favourite movie or just going for a stroll in nature.
The key philosophy I’m trying to get to is this:
Better awareness leads to better choices, which ultimately leads to better results.
Do you know what else works really well to relieve stress?
For those of you who don’t know what oxytocin is; it’s not a drug. Well sort of. It’s a hormone released in your body that’s associated with socializing. Also known as the cuddle hormone. Oxytocin is released as part of the stress response, to help you get along with other people.
Why would that help? Because we’ve evolved that way. The most effective way to deal with daily stressors is through seeking assistance. When you confide in others and find a helpful social structure, you mentally deal with the stress a lot better.
I really just want you all to realize that there are certain aspects of our biology that we can and cannot control. The most efficient way to live therefore, is to use what we can control, to help us deal with what we cannot control.
Stress is your friend. And your friends help you with stress. Life is a vicious cycle of paradoxes that don’t always make sense. That’s okay. We just have to follow our nature. Try our best. And ultimately realize that we’re going to die some day. None of this will really matter then.
“Live for the present like you’ll die tomorrow, plan for the future like you’ll live forever.”
One of the most profound quotes I’ve come across. I hope this message was beneficial. Please share it with those who could make use of it. The aim is to help as many people as possible live out their full potential.