Turn your stress into your strength is possible. Stress is hard to define because you cannot have discreet symptoms associated with it. Everyone feels stress differently, and definitely, everyone responds to it differently. Stress is a normal human reaction that happens to everyone. In fact, the human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. When you experience changes or challenges (stressors), your body produces physical and mental responses. That’s stress. It is experienced when we feel under pressure or threatened. It usually happens when we are in a situation we don’t feel we can manage or control. Stress responses help your body adjust to new situations. Stress can be positive, keeping us alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger. For example, if you have an important test coming up, a stress response might help your body work harder and stay awake longer.
Not All Stress Is Bad
Stress is a beneficial component of personal development; this is “good” stress. However, too much stress can lead to distress, which causes burnout. Signs of distress can be subtle, but early intervention can prevent burnout. Stress becomes a problem when stressors continue without relief or periods of relaxation. Too much stress can affect our mood, body, and relationships – especially when it feels out of our control. It can make us feel anxious and irritable and affect our self-esteem.
Experiencing a lot of stress over a long period of time can also lead to a feeling of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion often called burnout.
So, we can categorize stress into two categories good stress and bad stress.
Good stress is called Eustress, which helps us to progress positively in our life. Bad stress is referred to as Destress, which can lead to a harmful effect on life.
The question arises, what makes stress good or bad?
The answer is simple, the way we perceive any situation makes it either good stress or bad stress. A non-threatening situation can create a severely stressful response in the body. Or a person may remain very calm during a very dangerous or threatening situation. According to a study by Harvard University, the harmful effects of stress can be reduced significantly by just reframing the perception of stressful situations. A massive study was carried out, where the data of 30,000 participants were analyzed to explore the relationship between the experience of stress and the perception of how it affects health. The results clearly indicated that the perception of stress makes it bad or good for health. The result of the study showed that those who believed that stress is harmful had a 43% higher chance of premature death than those who believed that stress is not harmful. Stress has a negative impact on health only when people believe that it is dangerous or harmful. On the other hand, those who did not believe it to be harmful were at the lowest risk of premature death, even when faced with a high level of stress.
You might be thinking that how could a perception of the stress could affect the physical heath?
It is an established fact that our thinking affects our behavior. A pessimistic expectation about life leads to poorer mental and physical health. A person with a negative outlook on life gets stuck in a self-fulfilling prophecy. They expect bad things to happen, and anything that goes against their expectation reinforces their negative beliefs about life. Continuously experiencing bad outcomes in life lead to harmful effects. On the contrary, if Stress is taken positively, then it is considered to improve the performance significantly.
Have you ever noticed that when there is high stress, you tend to work hard and eventually perform better than average? Stress is a beneficial component of personal development. Stress becomes lethal when your mind gets trapped in the whirlwind of worries and loses focus on a solution. The recurring thoughts exhaust you mentally and physically. So, do not get drifted into the Stress that depletes your energy.
Stress can be a silent killer only when it remains unnoticed and untreated for longer.
Stress is caused by your thoughts, NOT by the situation.
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Ambreen Nadeem is an Industrial Psychologist with more than 15+ years of experience in Marketing Research. She has diverse experience in Market Research Analyses, Client Relationships, Project Management, and Leadership in top multinational companies, both at the agency and client-side. She has been managing major projects for blue-chip clients in Saudi Arabia.
Moreover, she advocates for mental health and spreads the knowledge of Psychology and Mental Health through her podcasts, live shows, workshops, and blogs.
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