Stress! Surprise – It Isn’t All Bad!
Stress gets a bad rap! In and of itself, stress is not a bad thing. The right amount of stress actually boosts brainpower, aka cognitive function, expands your potential, builds resiliency, helps to fend off illness, increases creativity, and motivates. Some pretty desirable traits – wouldn’t you say?
So why does stress conjure up such negative sentiments? Because most people have not proactively invested in stress-proofing their life. By that I mean consistently practicing habits that enable you to face the challenges that come your way. To do that you need habits like…
- Eating well
- Getting enough rest
- Managing your time
- Maintaining margin in your life
- Spending time with God
- Having boundaries
- Engaging in activities that energize you
- Regular relaxation
- Not depending on alcohol or drugs
- Spending time with those you love
- Having a support system or coach
You could say that minimizing excess stress is motivation to cultivate healthy habits!
Stress & Success
Believe it or not, stress is a key ingredient in your success. It provides the pressure you need to accomplish worthwhile and meaningful goals. Stress also increases your confidence, abilities, and potential. I like to think about stress as the salt of life. A little bit of salt enhances the flavor of life. Too much salt and not only does it take a toll on your health, it is overpowering and makes you thirsty.
More often than not, you are responsible for the chronic stress in your life. Chronic stress is not the good kind of stress! Over time you get used to having stress in your life, but not realizing the harm it’s doing you. When you have down time, you may not even know what to do with yourself! Here are just a few ways that you may be adding to the stress in your life:
- Being overly responsible – compensating for others
- Taking life too seriously – you need space to laugh!
- Consuming too much sugar and not enough fruits and veggies
- Procrastinating or always being late
- Not dealing with clutter
- Keeping your to do list in your head
- Ignoring what’s stressing you
- Being disconnected from your feelings – repressed emotion creates anxiety!
- An over busy schedule – and no, kids don’t have to be doing something all the time
- The inability to say “no”
- Mismanaging money
- Meditating on the negative
- Always thinking the worst – catastrophic thinking
- Poor habits
In order to enjoy the positive benefits of stress you’ve got to…
1. Shift Your Thinking
Did you know that stress is the result of your perceptions about what’s going on in your life? The good news is that you can shift your perceptions. In fact, one study showed that stress is only harmful to your health if you believe it is! That’s encouraging, because you can do something about the way you think!
What are your beliefs around stress? Do you believe that stress…
- Depletes my health and well-being
- Inhibits my ability to learn and grow
- Limits my performance and productivity
- Is harmful and should be avoided
Or do you believe that stress…
- Boosts my immune system
- Enables me to learn and grow
- Enhances my performance and productivity
- Is helpful to me – I’ve got this with God’s help
What you think about stress matters.
Are you focused on feeling helpless or do you intentionally take charge? Do you dwell on the negative aspects of your life or do you focus on the possibilities? You compound stressful events when you replay those negative thoughts over and over again. That’s meditating! You want to meditate on positive thoughts or even better scripture!
You need a healthy dose of stress combined with activities that energize and relax you! Trouble ensues when that ratio is out of balance.
Stress is a normal and natural part of life. It’s like breathing! It will always be. How you respond to stressful events is what makes the difference. If you believe you are resilient, confident, and capable you are less likely to get overwhelmed.
Keep your expectations in check. Focus on learning as you take on the challenges! You’ve got this!
Remember you can’t do everything. Learn to adjust, re-evaluate, and prioritize what’s most important. What seems most urgent is not always what’s most important! The feeling that everything has to happen now will keep you overwhelmed!
Start your day by determining your top 3 priorities. Depending on what takes place in your day, that might change, but consciously choose the 3 most important tasks – the tasks that will bring you closer to your goals. And remember, it’s more than okay to pause and take time in your day to reconsider your priorities!
3. Proactively Plan
Don’t underestimate the value of planning. And just because you make a plan doesn’t mean that it’s in stone. It’s much easier to adjust and see what needs to happen when you have a plan in place.
One way to “plot” out what needs to be done is to make a list of tasks and deadlines. Then plot out the every day action steps or milestones on a calendar. This is incredibly helpful for projects, big goals – even planning what needs to be done for the holidays. You might even want to use this process to flesh out a plan for training your people or delegating a new task. Be sure that your plan has some wiggle room in it for those unexpected events that are sure to pop up.
I personally find it helpful to print out a blank calendar and use a pencil to plot things out. There’s something about physically writing it out that’s satisfying. I keep that visual calendar in the back of my to do list so that I can refer to it each morning as I plan my day.
4. Get Support
An outside perspective is powerful when you are under stress. Whether that support comes from co-workers, friends, family, or a coach, it’s essential!
And support is more than other humans. Engaging in activities that make your heart happy are especially necessary when you are stressed. The temptation is to skip life giving activities because they take up too much time. However, if you engage in supportive activities you will be able to focus and complete your tasks in less time and with less tension and frustration.
Are you focused on having to do it all and do it solo or are you taking advantage of the support around you?
Pay attention! What creates stress for you? Is it leaving tasks to the last minute? The unexpected or unknown? Finances? Big goals or projects? Performing? Failing? Something I mentioned previously in this post?
Be compassionate – treat yourself like you would a friend!
Stress will always be there. It’s a reminder that you have things, people, and work in your life that you care about. The better you respond to stress the more you will enjoy your life. Your relationship with stress is like any other relationship – it takes work, and it takes practice. And it’s all worth the effort!
How are you harnessing the power of stress in your life?
I’ve got more for you!