Yes, we all suffer from stress. So why not turn it into “Eustress” or positive stress. Here’s how.
It’s all going wrong today. You’re behind on a deadline at work. The school has called to tell you that your child has had another accident playing football. Oh, and just to make things worse, a letter has arrived printed in bold red ink, to tell you that you haven’t paid a recent utility bill.
You could bury your head in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening, but where will that get you? Nowhere.
So what should we do in these situations? Embrace it and turn it into Eustress. Positive stress (Eustress) is a healthy form of stress which makes us feel good about ourselves. It can increase your immunity, productivity, and all it takes is a different way of looking at things. and a few tweaks to your daily habits. Here’s how to make the most of a bad situation.
1. Think positive and Accept the Situation…you can’t turn the clock back
Happy and meaningful lives are never stress-free. Anywhere you look, there is advice on how to reduce stress, together with articles about anxiety and depression.
However, the biggest impact of stress may simply be how you view it. Negative stress is, well… negative. If you think the stress is harming you, it most likely is.
But we have all seen people who seem to take stress in their stride. How do they do this? These apparently less stressed people allow stress to energise them, and they turn negatives into positives. They don’t necessarily try to reduce stress. They accept the situation and look for solutions which will have a positive impact.
Bear in mind that, if we did not have any stress, we would not be motivated to make things better. Nothing would change for the better.
2. Use Positive Stress to Reach your Personal Best
This follows neatly on from point 1. You could think that your nervousness and “butterflies” are a sign that your anxiety is all too much to handle (bad stress!) or you could think “I’m ready for this challenge.”
Have you ever seen top sportsman and women who bring out their best performances when the pressure is intense and nerves are shredded?
When everyone else is falling apart at the seams, these people reach levels of performance that they just couldn’t if there were no nerves or stress. They manage to convert their anxiety into a positive stress and become excited and focussed at the prospect of potential success.
When you focus on what you want, you automatically put more energy into your efforts and you are more likely to succeed. Of course, the opposite is true if you are more mindful of negative stress, so don’t fall into that trap.
3. Don’t catastrophize
It is a natural reaction for many of us to view a situation as being worse than it actually is. We wonder what will be the outcome of an action, if we take it. “I might look silly”, “What will they say if I…”
With this train of thought, we convince ourselves that the outcome of something is going to be disastrous, and this is a distorted way of thinking. It is a fear of an outcome (often an unlikely one) – “I won’t see the doctor for a routine check-up because he’ll probably tell me I’m seriously ill”.
How to avoid these thoughts:
Accept that sometimes things just happen. If today has been a bad day, tomorrow doesn’t have to be bad. We all get good days and not-so-good days.
Try to recognise when you are looking at the worst case scenario. If you notice that you are doing this repeatedly, you are in a better position to handle these thoughts and look for more positive and realistic outcomes.
4. Live in the Present
Stress is usually a result of something that has already happened, or a result of something we are worried might happen in the future.
So, we are worrying about what we’ve done and what we need to do.
It is important to understand this. If we are worrying about the past and the future, we are not spending anytime use living in real time – the present.
The more often you can live in the present the less stressed you’re likely to be. We can’t change the past – it is over! And the future? Well, it hasn’t even happened yet!
Are they really worth all that stress?
5. Focus on What You can Control to reduce stress
Too often, when we are feeling stressed, we concentrate on what outcomes might be in the future. We look at the “what if’s”, rather than what we can do to control the situation and perhaps change the outcome for the better.
Try writing a list of your stresses. Give the first list the heading “things I can control”, and the other list “things I can NOT control”. Allocate all of your stresses to the appropriate headings. Once you have done this, concentrate all of your efforts on the the first list.
Once you do start taking control of the things on your list, you will see yourself moving towards your goal. This, in turn will turn negative stress into positive stress. Focus on the task and not the emotion!
6. Set a Deadline
Under pressure? That’s the best time to channel your efforts into getting things done.
If you set a deadline, you are more likely to complete your tasks on time. If you don’t set a timeframe for your work, the chances are you will take longer to get it done. Guess what, if things aren’t finished you will be “rewarded” with more stress!
7. Surround Yourself with Positive People
Make sure that the people you spend the most time with are positive, supportive people. These are the people you can depend on to give helpful advice, you can bounce ideas off them and listen to their honest opinions.
Sometimes we may have no choice but to spend time with negative people, for example, at work. However, keep this to a minimum, as these negative people may increase your stress levels.
When your state of mind is usually optimistic, when everyday stress comes along, you are more likely to deal with it positively and constructively.
Remember, every problem has a solution. Take control of your situation, adopt a positive outlook and accept the things you can’t change. Focus your energy on what you can take control of.