Is there a positive side of stress or a way to make stress work for you? We all know the negative side of stress-sleeplessness, weight gain, restlessness, forgetfulness, and in the worst cases, heart problems.
But positive stress can push you forward and help you master a scary thing. Think about the time you faced that scary ski slope and pushed off at the top of the hill? You were stressed, a little terrified actually, but also invigorated and excited. The stress of a steep mountain made you take on a new challenge. The reason was because you perceived that stress to be positive. And when the perception of stress is positive, it can excite, energize and make you more alert. In fact, you can thrive on stress that is perceived to be positive and challenges you to grow.
As your body begins to feel the signs of stress–heart racing, nervous, sweaty palms, etc., think of those signs as your body’s way of preparing you to meet the challenge of something new. If your attitude is, “I’m getting ready to face the challenging thing” versus, “Oh no, I can’t do this” you will be using stress in a positive way.
How you react to the stress matters. Now if the stress controls you and stays with you for a long time, this is when you begin to get into trouble. So the way you think of the stress will help you overcome it.
First don’t be afraid of new challenges and things that are a bit uncomfortable. Tell yourself, it’s normal to feel fear, anxiety or even panic for a moment. Recognize this, but imagine yourself tackling it and working through it. Keep going forward and tell yourself, “I can handle this. It is no big deal!”
When you face a stressful situation, make sure you don’t expect yourself to face it perfectly. Give yourself some grace and a little room to falter or even fail the first time. Simply breath and try again. Most people overcome stress by facing it head on and learning that they can work through it.
So stare down that mountain, take a deep breath, tell yourself you can do it, use your stress response to push off the top of the mountain and take charge. At the bottom of the hill (stress), you will look back and say, “That wasn’t so bad!”