3 Ways to Harness the Power of Stress (E15)

Harness the Power of Stress as an Ally


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March 29, 2016

You’ve probably heard it: stress is bad for you. Stress makes you sick and unhappy. Do whatever you can to eliminate stress!In this week’s New & Noteworthy article, 6 Ways You Can Conquer Stress Today, According to the Experts, by Kaitlyn Russell, lays out six helpful tips for “conquering” stress:

  • Spend Time with People Who Matter
  • Disconnect
  • Go to a Quiet Place
  • Stay Present
  • Exercise
  • Distract Yourself with Something You Enjoy

While these techniques are definitely helpful, they may perpetuate the idea that stress is bad. Stress needs to be conquered.

What if we’ve been making stress into an enemy it’s not?

Inspired by the TED Talk How to make stress your friend by health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, this week’s episode is all about stress – in a good way!

Until recently, I believed that stress was a bad thing. I dreaded times where I knew I would be stressed out, and was horribly uncomfortable in stressful situations. Then, I learned from this TED Talk that stress only affects you in negative ways if you think of stress as a negative thing. However, if you think of stress as a positive, powerful, motivating force in your life, it doesn’t have the same negative effects on your health, wellness, and personal growth.

Additionally, stress actually helps us connect with others. One of the hormones released during stress, oxytocin, is actually known as the “cuddle hormone,” because it makes us want to connect with others. Stress not only motivates us through difficult times – it can help us find support from others during those times!

Here are three ways to harness the power of stress in a more positive way:

(1.) Reframe Your Stress

In her TED Talk, Kelly points out that the physiological response we experience in stressful situations is identical to the response we need to overcome adversity.

By thinking of stressful situations as a chance to be courageous, we can harness the power of stress in positive ways. I found that a stressful work situation was far more enjoyable – almost relaxing – when I thought about my stress as a chance to be courageous instead.

(2.) Listen To Your Stress

Stress is powerful: it makes us do all kinds of things to avoid it. Sometimes, thinking about our stress in a new way will help us to deal with the situation. If we listen to what our stress is telling us, like be brave or you are prepared to face this challenge, then we don’t need to overcome the stress. If we don’t listen, we can’t hear what our stress is saying.

(3.) Reach Out For Support

As I mentioned, sometimes it is not enough to reframe stress – we need help from others to make it through the stressful situation. Let the oxytocin work for you, and reach out for support when you are stressed!

I did during a stressful situation this week, and my friend supported me and even helped me think about the situation in a completely new (and much less stressful) way. Reaching out for the support of others is the one thing I think we can all start doing today for our personal growth.

Some parting thoughts…

“The greatest of human emotions is love. The most valuable of human gifts is the ability to learn. Therefore learn to love.” – UJ Ramdas

Thanks for Listening!

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It's Time for a Better Career Change!

Don't Put Your Happiness on Hold!

Start Now!