…if it’s good stress, it can transform your life!
When you’re going out of your mind with worry and anxiety, it’s almost impossible to imagine there can be anything good about stress. You just want to get rid of it, and get rid of it fast.
But the truth of the matter is that some stress is actually good for us all. The trick is to stay on the exciting or motivational side of the line rather than flip over onto the stress filled side.
If you think about what has given you the greatest satisfaction in life, it was probably something you had to work really hard at. Something that was a real challenge. Perhaps it involved learning a new skill or travelling to faraway places.
Although it was demanding and you felt under pressure, you got a real buzz from what you achieved. For that reason, what you experienced can be thought of as good stress.
In contrast, there are those awful situations where you’re under pressure and feel like you’re drowning. It’s as though something is being done to you. You feel trapped and unable to walk away.
This is bad stress and the sort we all hate. What’s more, it can adversely affect your mental, physical and emotional well-being if it’s not managed effectively.
What’s the Difference Between Good Stress and Bad Stress?
There are three characteristics that differentiate good and bad stress.
The first is having at least some degree of control over the stressful situation.
Secondly, it’s the ability to choose if you’re going to engage in the situation. And if so, how?
Finally, good stress has a purpose. It may be the achievement of a goal you’ve set yourself or a challenge you’re determined to overcome. Either way, your stress inspires you to strive for great things and lead a more fulfilling life.
For example, the stress you experience when learning a new skill involves good stress, because it’s something you’ve chosen to do. Whereas, being involved in a car crash entails bad stress, because it’s neither something you want nor something you’ve chosen.
Key to Stress Management
What’s interesting about the characteristics of good stress is they can be applied to situations involving bad stress. By changing your attitude and looking for the things you have control over, you can transform bad stress into something that’s more manageable.
When we feel stressed, the problem comes from our response to the stressful situation, not the situation itself. This can be very difficult to accept when you’re dealing with all sorts of problems in your life. But, by changing your perception of the difficulties you’re facing, and in particular, by looking for the things you have control over, as well as possible choices you can make, you can transform bad stress into something that’s more manageable.
Most importantly, you can get relief from even the most dire, overwhelmingly awful situations. And this is not a quick fix that will fall apart tomorrow. This is a life-changing transformation that can bring you relief, satisfaction and peace of mind.
You Can’t Change What’s Going On Outside You
Sadly, you can’t change the situation if a car is hurtling towards you on the wrong side of the road. And your options may be limited if you need major surgery. Similarly, you can’t do anything about being laid off if your company has gone into receivership. And you may not be able to change the heart breaking reality if your spouse has left you for someone else.
These are events beyond your control, but what you can change is your response to the situation.
You may say but it’s just not fair, and sadly, it often isn’t. Or you may cry I don’t deserve this, which may well be true. Perhaps you think I’ll never find another job, but that’s a false impression. Or you may shout it’s all her fault, but blame won’t solve the problem.
The reality about these understandable responses is they only exacerbate your stressful thoughts and feelings. You will not find relief while you’re consumed with anger, anxiety or other destructive thoughts, because these negative emotions only immobilize you.
You can’t change other people, only they can do that. And you often can’t change the circumstances in which you find yourself. But you can change how you deal with the situation.
In the interests of self-preservation, you have to change your response. It’s the only way you will get relief from the stress you’re experiencing.
Find Relief by Switching to Good Stress
Ask yourself three questions:
- What can I control in this difficult situation?
- What is my desired outcome?
- How do I intend to respond?
Whatever is happening around you, remember that you always have control over your thoughts, emotions and behavior.
Going over and over the rights and wrongs of the situation in your mind only exacerbates your stress level and ramps up your negative emotions.
So switch your focus to what you can do to improve the situation and then take action.