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How to Handle Stress: Stop Managing Stress & Let It Keep You On Point
Is stress always bad? We answer that question in this post by drawing distinctions between distress and eustress. One stress empowers us, excites us and motivates us; while the other evokes fear, worry and weakness.
Let’s dive right in!
2 Reasons to love stress? What? Huh? This guy must be crazy!
Let me explain…
Many times we lump the feelings of discomfort, anxiety, uncertainty, procrastination and nervousness into one emotion: stress. Right? Also, many times we look at stress as FULLY and SOLELY negative. Which, believe it or not, couldn’t be further from the truth.
Let’s take a closer look!
Science shows us that there are actually two forms of stress. The bad kind, distress, and the good kind, eustress. Distress is what we feel when we have procrastinated, lack self confidence, get yelled at by a boss or a loved one or go through a traumatic experience. Distress distracts us from feeling great, excited and joyful about life or upcoming events. This negative form of stress makes us feel weaker; mentally, physically and emotionally. Distress keeps us in a box.
On the other hand, eustress is one of our best friends! Eustress is the stress that will keep us up all night because we are excited about our new job interview, event or venture. Eustress is what will have us practice our lines or body language in the mirror. This wonderful form of stress is the fuel that pushes us outside of our comfort zone and past out current limits. What a difference!
Now back to the question at hand: Why should I love stress? I mean, EUstress!
Eustress is needed for growth.
Without being pushed past our limits, without being driven to excel, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we will never know what we are capable of. Eustress plays a major role in our motivation and allows us to rise above our challenges.
Eustress promotes enhanced concentration and focus.
For example, have you ever been on a job interview and it seemed like every question they asked you, you were able to knock out of the park. Did it seem like you were unflinching and quick on your feet? Did you surprise yourself with how quickly and effectively you could tie together complex thoughts and ideas? That was eustress in all its glory! Next time you are ‘in the zone’ thank eustress for giving you that competitive edge!
The Tricky Part!
The tricky part is determining what kind of stress you are feeling. The goal is to never attempt to get rid of stress, that is not possible! The goal is to turn your Distress into Eustress!
How to handle stress in a way that empowers and inspires you:
1. Embrace your fears.
Don’t run from them. When they grab you, grab back and dance. Let your inner voice sound like, “Fear I see you, hear you and feel you! You might have stopped me before, but today is all mine and nothing will ruin it!”
2. Create and maintain positive expectations.
Days or weeks before, visualize yourself doing great work and receiving loving feedback. Make time in your day to make this visualization a habit. The tougher the task, the more you will need to practice and visualize your positive expectations.
3. Remember to breathe!
Take deep diaphragmatic breaths whenever you feel stressed or tension in your face. Diaphragmatic breaths direct the blood flow from your head and heart to your stomach, relieving redness from your face and calming light-headedness!
4. Re-imagine the worst case scenario.
Remember that there is no failure, only results. Even if your ‘stressful’ event doesn’t go as planned, the goal was never perfection. A lack of perfection and mishaps make you human, not a failure!
In short, your attitude will determine whether you are feeling distress or eustress. What side of the fence are you on? How can your stress to take you to the next, higher level?
“It’s not stress that kills us, it’s our reaction it.” -Hans Selye
As always, I hope this helps you on your journey of learning how to handle stress. Feel free to share this with your family, friends and colleagues.
All the best,