Using Stress to Your Advantage
Updated: Apr 13
You are probably well-versed in the art of stress, but have you ever stopped to think about the positive aspects of stress?
What is stress?
Stress is the body’s way of responding to situations that evoke fight, flight, freeze, tend or befriend responses. The body will release different hormones which feel different to it and thereby you may take notice. Think about a time when you had a boss or employee come to you with an issue needing to be addressed within the hour. Your brain released adrenaline to help you ramp things up and you probably got whatever it was done.
Stress doesn’t feel good and it has not been helpful for me, so what’s up with that?
When stress feels overwhelming, it means it has been allowed to grow and persist to the point where it is no longer advantageous. This is when the hard-core stress relievers need to be put into place to stop the stress from continuing to grow and/or to reduce its intensity.
Stress Relievers might include:
Mindful breathing (exhaling longer than inhaling to produce a positive outcome)
Movement (push yourself to move in challenging ways like running, walking fast or sitting in a plank position until you are shaking)
Taking a relaxing bath or exhilarating cold shower
Holding your breath while placing an ice pack on your face (30 seconds at a time)
So how do I use stress to my advantage?
It all comes down to how much you are paying attention to your stress. Most people try so hard to avoid negative emotions that they find themselves completely shutting off any awareness. The problem with this approach is it robs people from using stress to their advantage.
Here’s some ways to increase your awareness (and better us stress to your advantage):
Start tuning into your body. Keep a running log of what you are feeling each day. Rate your stress level.
Keep a list of what you eat each day and how much you are sleeping.
Move your body every day.
Take any prescribed medications as directed.
Track how much you are indulging in mood-altering substances like caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol or drugs.
On the days you are feeling more stress, what has been the outcome? If the outcome is positive, meaning you are doing the things you want or need to get done, record everything about that day and duplicate it in the future as much as possible. If the outcome is not positive, what got in the way? Eating habits and sleep patterns are often get in the way and are the first things to examine.
Take a look at your history. Have you been a person who puts things off until the last minute (for example: writing a paper two hours before it is due and getting an ‘A’)? Do you want to change things from your history or are they working for you? BE HONEST.
Sit with your stress for a few minutes and then ask yourself, “What is my stress trying to tell me?” If you are having a hard time with this question, it might mean you need to talk with someone, like a professional therapist, to help you clarify.
Don’t judge yourself -- this is a killer for using stress to your advantage. Statements that start with, “It shouldn’t….” or “I shouldn’t” never help your situation, so change this language.
Look around your world right now and notice how much people are using their stress to their advantage. You can too!
If you are searching for ways to use your stress to your advantage and could use more ideas, support, encouragement or assistance, we can help! Check out our new courses to learn more or contact us at Terra@LifeWithLessStress.com to connect with us!