It’s no surprise that in the past months stress has affected most of the population. But did you know that a recent study by mental health provider Ginger shows that…
Nearly 70% of workers claim the coronavirus pandemic is the most stressful time of their professional career—even more than major events like 9/11 and the 2008 Great Recession.
The numbers don’t lie, researchers from “America’s State of Mind Report” stated that from February 16 to March 15 2020 the prescriptions for antidepressant, antianxiety, and anti-insomnia medications increased by 21%.
However we have to highlight that stress is actually a normal response of our mind and body to unknown and uncertain situations. Whenever we feel fear or worry our body and mind stress.
Still, the reality is that stress has a bad reputation. It has been related to anxiety and depression and most people define it as something bad.
So what does stress really means?
According to Merriam Webster dictionary stress is a force exerted when one body or body part presses on, pulls on, pushes against, or tends to compress or twist another body or body part.
In simple terms, stress is the pressure or stretch you put into an object. If you put too much pressure or you stressed it too much, you can break it. So we can say that it is not stress, but the amount of force you put into an object relative to how much pressure or stretch the object can hold, what really affects that object.
The Yin and Yang
But is stress really that bad?
Before we put an adjective to stress let’s start by saying that there are 2 types of stress.
The first type of stress is called Distress this is the bad stress, the one that leads to awful, late-night hair-tearing sessions, burnout and overwhelm.
The second type of stress is called Eustress. Eustress, consisting of the Greek prefix eu- meaning “good”, and stress, is the “Good Stress”.
How can stress be good? – You might be asking.
A clear example in your body is exercise. The only way to build muscle is to stress it to a level where the fibers of the muscles sustain damage or injury. Then the body fuses damaged fibers and muscle increases in mass and size. The same happens when you run, ride or practice any sport. You “stress” your condition to a level where you are no longer comfortable. Then you keep on going until you take it to the next level.
In our mind the game is played the same way. If you think a particular situation is bad for you, you will respond negatively to that situation, making your prediction come true. But, if you think what’s happening to you is a good thing and you’ll get great results from it, then you turn that situation into a challenge.
A research from The University of Wisconsin-Madison found similar results, people with a positive view of stress lived many years longer than those with a negative view of stress—an amazing fact.
So how can you turn any stressful situation into a Eustress opportunity? What can you do to leverage stress and use it as a tool to success?
- Meditate: Acknowledge what are you stressed about. It is important to find the real reason why you feeling stressed about and meditation is a great tool. You don’t need to spend 3 years in the Taj Mahal, take 3 minutes. Slow down, breath, relax and think about what’s stressing you out.
- Give Meaning: No matter what you are stressed about, what’s really important is the meaning you give to it. Is this a punishment from God or an opportunity for a fresh start? It’s up to you to turn a threat into a challenge.
- Take Action: Write down step by step what you can do to accomplish the result. What part of the outcome you can influence or control? Whatever is not in your hands, just let go.
Use stress to build resilience, embrace those times of struggle and turning them into wins; those wins will build your confidence and nothing will stop you.
The feeling might not change much, but the outcome will. Even when you turned Distress into Eustress, that doesn’t mean you won’t feel preoccupied. Remember you are still putting pressure on you, but this pressure is good for you, it will benefit you and lead you to success.