Learn How to Use Stress Before it Uses You

Wednesday, July 06, 2016, 03:00 PM

We all have stress. What you may not know is that there are different types of stress—not all of it is good but not all of it is bad either. It can be detrimental in the way that it negatively affects your mindset and can lead to physical ailments down the road.

However, the good news is that stress can also create an environment that motivates you to achieve more and pushes you out of your comfort zone. The key is having the resources and support system to manage it.

Stress is a signifier anytime your system's balance is challenged. When change needs to happen, your body will give you a signal: your heart rate goes up, and the hormones cortisol and oxytocin are released — stress!

As a survival mechanism, you are given those cues to impel you to adapt and rise to the challenge.

Manageable stressors are things that actually help you stay alive. For example, when you are hungry, you eat; when you are tired, you sleep. Most of the time, stress in and of itself isn't necessarily the problem — it's the frequency and what you do with it that matters.
Dr. Eva Selhub, an internationally recognized expert in the fields of stress, resilience, and mind-body medicine, advises you to distinguish between the motivating stress and the unmanageable kind that is toxic.

Dr. Selhub likens unmanageable stress to your mind creating a lion that is chasing you for its next meal. When this stress response is activated, it causes heightened physiological changes.

It's when the mind perceives stress to be unmanageable that it really starts to break both the mind and body down. Unmanageable stress leads to anxiety and negative emotions because one negative thought can easily turn into another, creating a vicious cycle.

Remember that people tend to base their opinions of how the future will be on their past experiences, and this anticipatory stress inhibits your personal growth. Having an innate trust in yourself and in others around you can help you develop techniques and resources to deal with challenges.

To learn more about current research, watch the viral TedTalk on the upside of stress by Dr. Kelly McGonigal.

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