How to Use Stress to Your Advantage

Stress is a part of life. We all deal with it and we all are aware of it. Feeling stressed is no fun, and chronic stress is linked to many long term problems. However, a common misconception about stress is that it in itself is harmful. In reality, it is the way that we perceive stress that determines how it affects us. Fighting with it and trying to avoid is not the best way to cope. There are better ways to think about stress and to actually use stress in a way that’s beneficial to you.

Consider what stress actually is. Stress is the body’s natural reaction to a perceived threat. Imagine yourself in an extremely stressful situation. Your heart is pounding, your hands are sweating. In this moment the best thing to do is to take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is your body’s way of giving you energy and preparing you to face the situation. Your body is trying to help you, not hurt you. Working with these feelings instead of against them is the best way to deal with stress effectively.

Trying to eliminate stress completely is unrealistic and only leads us to feel worse when we are stressed. Stress is part of human nature. If you’re feeling stressed, find comfort in the fact that everybody else has dealt with what you’re going through at some point. There is nothing wrong with you. Reframing the role that stress plays in our lives will bring immense benefits. Owning stress instead of trying to fight against it gives you the opportunity to use these feelings to perform your best. Attempting to ignore or avoid stress will only lead to things building up, which will have negative effects in the long run. Here are some tips to keep in mind while shifting your mindset regarding stress.

  • Remember that you have control over your life. How you think about your stress determines whether it has a positive or negative effect on you. You have the ability to choose to view stress in a positive light and use it to push you to do your best.

  • Overcoming a stressful situation is a challenge that gives you the strength to move past any obstacles that come your way in the future.

  • Your mind needs breaks. Anxious thoughts are exhausting. Give yourself a chance to relax, whether that’s through meditation, taking deep breaths, or just enjoying a few moments of silence. This may seem simple, and it may not change the situation, but taking a step back can allow you to return with a clearer mind.

  • Think about what’s causing your stress. Sometimes the cause is something obvious, like a big test or a project, but sometimes the triggers are more subtle. Journaling is an excellent way to work through your thoughts and get to the root of your stress.

A change in point of view can make a huge difference in your life. Reframing the way you think about stress is the healthiest way to handle stress and will help you succeed in any challenges you face.