Stress is the number one productivity killer and health wrecker in the modern world. Or is it? The world of stress management is all about reducing or removing stress, but never about what else it could mean for your life. What if stress could be a good thing? With some simple steps, it actually can help your life.
Revisit Your Stress Beliefs
The common belief is that stress is horrible for health and can lead to early death. New evidence suggests that it is this belief, not necessarily the stress itself, which leads to the potentially fatal consequences of chronic stress.
By making stress a bad, feared thing in your mind, you increase its power to harm your health and mental well-being. Simply acknowledging and truly believing that there are benefits to stress, you change the way your body reacts to it and diminish or eliminate the negative consequences.
Extend Yourself for Others
Step outside of your own head and spend time helping others, providing care for those who cannot provide it for themselves. Directing your mental energy to easing the burden for other people helps reduce the pain of personal problems. Things like financial crises, deaths in the family and employment difficulties have less negative impact on people who spend time helping others. In fact, helping others is so effective in managing stress that it’s a cornerstone of many 12-step programs and recovery strategies.
Forge Social Connections
Stress can make you feel lonely and isolated, but only if you allow. Oxytocin, the primary “bonding” compound in the brain, flows freely when you’re stressed. This drives the desire for connection – not just on a romantic level, but any connection with other humans. Take the opportunity to reach out and forge new connections to strengthen and grow your support network.
The true key to stress management is a shift in mindset. No one can completely avoid stress. Change your reactions to stress, and it can become a benefit to your life instead of a constant drain.
Image Source: Viktor Hanacek