Do you live a stressful life? There aren’t many people who would answer “no.” Being stressed and crazy busy are like badges of honor. Societal programming silently tells you that if you’re not stressed out and busy, there’s something wrong with you. You’re not doing enough. Read my post on being and doing “enough” HERE.
While you’re supposed to be stressed, you’re also bombarded with messages that tell you how unhealthy stress is. Some studies boldly say that about 97% of all medical issues (especially heart disease, diabetes and stroke) are related to stress.
To combat the onslaught of stress, we seek out ways to relax. There are entire industries that exist to help you deal with your stress.
All these messages convince you that stress is bad. It’s a killer.
But what if there were more to this whole stress thing? Maybe a more positive way of seeing stress.
In the video below, Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist, talks about how she may inadvertently be harming her patients by feeding them more of the “stress is bad” message.
People tend to believe whatever authority figures (like doctors) tell them. Those beliefs have an incredibly powerful effect on our bodies. This has been proven by numerous studies over many decades. Bruce Lipton, Candace Pert, both Ph.D.’s, and Lynne McTaggart have written extensively on the topic.
What if you decided to believe that the pounding heart and hormones secreted during stressful times were good for you? How different are those physiological responses to those experienced during a challenging workout? Everyone “knows” that a challenging workout is good for you, right? So what makes the same physiological experience bad when it’s labeled “stress?”
Kelly’s answer to the question asked of her at the end of her talk was an interesting one.
Q: “If someone is making a choice between a stressful job and a non-stressful job, does it matter which one they pick if they believe that stress is empowering?”
A: “Chasing meaning is better for your health than avoiding discomfort. That’s the best way to make decisions. Go after what creates meaning in your life, and trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.”
Stress, by itself, is not a bad thing. Like everything else in life, the effect it has on you depends on the stories you believe about it.
If your stories/beliefs aren’t supporting you, make up new ones. To change a belief:
- Identify exactly what the existing negative belief is. (Stress is bad for me. It’s a killer.)
- Then challenge it. Argue with it. Find reasons to support why it’s a false belief. (Stress heightens my senses and makes me more aware of opportunities. It urges me to find others who can help me. Stress gets my blood pumping which provides more oxygen to my brain and body.)
- Create a new belief that’s the opposite of the old belief. Make sure it’s something you can be excited about. (Stress is good for me. It invigorates me and helps me to achieve my goals.)
- Repeat the new belief a few times a day with feeling for at least a month.
How might you answer the next person who asks how you’re doing? Instead of saying, “I’m so stressed and busy!” with a big sigh, try “I’m pretty stressed right now. It’s awesome!” with lots of positive energy.
How can you turn stress into your friend? What can you change in your daily thinking and actions that would allow stress to be a positive force in your life?
To get an idea of how stressed you might be, take the quiz below:
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