Has changing jobs, moving to a new city, or a painful separation from your partner caused your anxiety to shoot up? Truth be told, the degree of a stress experience is relative. While sudden significant changes to your lifestyle can become a source of adverse mental health outcomes, more minor alterations and uncertainties could also trigger and contribute to everyday stress levels. 

The good news is, you are not alone. And the bad news is, the impact of stress is different for different people. So, no one formula for stress management won’t fit all. A stressful situation could make you sweaty, experience mood swings and a racing heart; and exponentially increase the frequency of headaches, sickness, and dizziness. It may also result in more severe effects like physical aches and pains, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, obesity, and hair loss. There is no specific treatment available for stress, so individual coping mechanisms such as changing a negative outlook, therapy, or even meditative practices could be viable options that can make a big difference in addressing daily stressors. 

Is stress inherently bad for you?

It is a common belief that stress is inherently debilitating. However, years of empirical research have proven otherwise. Stress isn’t irredeemably bad for your health. It can positively affect us since it helps us recognize threats and handle unprecedented challenges. Stress can also be beneficial in immunizing us against trauma, sadness, or depression; accomplish tasks that fuel substantial growth (ultimately helping us become mentally strong). But you only need the right amount of stressors to trigger the “fight or flight” syndrome. A spike in our stress hormones can lead to an imbalance that all of us react to differently. It is only how we manage the stress inducers that help us readjust our focus, enabling us to maximize our efficiency or productivity.

Face your fears

Knowing your stressors is crucial. It may not necessarily cause them to be wiped out of your way, but they become more tolerable after you derive a sense of inspiration and meaning in them. One of the most important triggers of stress is fear. Living with profound levels of uncertainty can have a crippling effect on our minds and physical body. Know that change and disruption are inevitable. So, acknowledging and accepting things as they come is perhaps your best shield against everyday stress and anxiety. 

Be your cheerleader

It’s important to celebrate the little moments of joy that you may experience occasionally. It doesn’t have to be a gala event to beat your drums but appreciate and recognize your wins. We are all doing what we can to grow and improve. Those stresses will never truly go away. Since there will always be something that leaves us rushed and breathless, it’s okay to honor or perhaps drink a toast to the small wins. 

Bask in nature’s lap

According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology (2014), escaping into a natural landscape can help reduce stress. 36 people who participated in the research were asked to spend at least 10 minutes of their daily schedule three days a week for a total of eight weeks. Participants of this study were advised against stress exercise, reading, phone calls, using social media, and also conversations. They found that spending 20-30 minutes amid a natural setting can be highly beneficial in dropping the stress hormone cortisol. Now that’s a find we must take seriously and incorporate in our busy calendars to alleviate stress. 

Build positive relationships

Interestingly, numerous studies have indicated that community life can be beneficial in raising our happiness quotient and improve our resilience to stress inducers. Building close relationships like friendships or romantic ones can have a remarkable effect on reducing stress. While work commitments and technology have caused us to migrate and move away from our near and dear ones in a globalized world, evidence suggests that embracing and nurturing healthy relationships can promote happiness that buffers stress from getting under our skin. 

Practice empathy everywhere you go

Treat others the way you would like to be treated. A common saying but much less practiced. Kindness and compassion towards your fellow human beings can have a domino effect in managing stressful situations. If you’ve forever blamed others or held them responsible for contributing to your unhappiness, the issue might be your attitude towards them. Possibly, life has been unfair to you. But did you know that you add to your misery without even knowing? Do you practice forgiveness and tolerance more often than being perpetually frustrated, selfish, or arrogant? Are you proactive in extending a helping hand at home and work, or do you display a sense of entitlement? If a majority of your response points at negative behaviors, it’s time you express more empathy towards your loved ones, co-workers, and also strangers you meet on the way.

There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Not surprisingly, we have largely failed to acknowledge the life-enhancing effects of stress as a society. It’s best to keep an eye on the silver lining even in the most stressful experiences. Stress is an omnipresent threat but also a powerful tool that can trigger positive life-changing events. While we immerse ourselves in finding magical solutions to alleviating stress, there could be golden opportunities that we could miss in the stride. We aren’t glorifying the positive impact of stress but embracing challenges can help you thrive—under all circumstances.