The Good News About Stress
Are you feeling overwhelmed, tired, anxious or frustrated? Everyone encounters stressful circumstances most every day. Stress is a natural reaction of your mind and body to external demands. The good news is that stress can also provide an invitation to improve your life and recognizing stress is an opportunity for individual growth and positive change. Stress is actually essential to life. It is the excessive or unresolved stress that results in negative consequences. The key is how you believe, perceive and react to the various less-than-desirable circumstances of everyday life.
Below are five, perhaps surprising, ways that stress can actually help you and increase the satisfaction of your life:
It gets your attention
Noticing stress in your life serves as a warning sign – a waving, glowing red flag that something in your life may not be working its best. How do you first recognize stress in your life? You may experience symptoms of stress either physically, emotionally or behaviorally. Some people first recognize stress when they detect a headache or backache. For others, they may easily become impatient, snappy and snippy. And others may notice the stress in one area of their lives only when it has leaked into or even barraged other areas, much like dangerous and scattering cancer cells. Experiencing excessive stress can get your attention by unveiling a number of issues; including lack of life balance, unhealthy relationships or deteriorating health problems, to name a few. Pay attention to these. Take note of the warning signs that your stress level may be climbing, and do something about it today.
It reveals core needs*
Think of the last time you had a stressful day. One person’s experience of stress may be very different than another person’s. This is because as individuals we have different core needs (see list below). When these needs are not being met, stress soon follows. If one spouse, for example, has a core need of order, and the other does not share in this need or try to meet that need, anxiety and stress can be a daily irritation. Or, if one person in a group has a core need for planning and scheduling and the rest of the group prefers to “wing it,” the person who needs certainty will definitely feel stress. It is important to identify your core needs and acknowledge the link between unmet needs and stress. Therefore, when you recognize your core needs are not being met in one way, you can choose a different way to get them met.
It readjusts your expectations
We are full of expectations. Some we are consciously aware of and many others we are not. Expectations are always there in the background of our daily experiences. However, they are a common source of stress in our lives, creating emotional distress, relationship conflicts, misunderstandings and many other repeated problems. Expectations produce stress in two main ways. Some are unrealistic or untrue, like the blissful and problem-free expectations that newlyweds encounter. Others expectations are those of which we are completely unaware, like the belief that life or people will be fair. This blindness will surely lead to stress and strain. When we harbor expectations that are too high, we set ourselves up for failure. The stress resulting from this disappointment serves as an opportunity to readjust our expectations – of ourselves, and of others.
It reminds us of personal responsibility
Stressful experiences serve as reminders of what you can control and what you cannot control. You are probably keenly aware you cannot control other people – whether family, friends or co-workers. Their actions can disappoint us, betray us or discourage us on a regular basis if we allow them to. We have no control over what another person ultimately does. We can only control our response to them. This kind of stress serves as a distinctive reminder to take personal responsibility for our choices. The stress encountered from other people’s actions, or inactions, can sometimes feel like it is eating us alive. It is unfortunate when we fail to see our reaction choices as options for immediate stress management. Circumstances may be beyond our control, but there are many options for how to deal with them that can cause less stress.
Begin by taking responsibility for your choices that contribute to, or minimize, your stress today.
It leads to growth!
Life is never stagnating, and this is a good thing. Change is constant. It is constant in relationships, in the environment, and in the workforce. The burden of stress resulting from change is common in our culture today. As leadership expert and motivational speaker John Maxwell puts it, “Change always involves growth.” Through the growing pains of adjusting to aging and to navigating through other life transitions, experiencing some degree of stress is normal. Through disappointments, loss and the fact that we live in an uncertain world, stress is normal as well. And through this stress and change, we grow and persevere by learning new ways to accommodate, to develop patience, to mature and to practice lessons learned. Any given circumstance of stress will change with time. Or we can choose to change ourselves. The good news about stress is it always can lead to growth. Capture your opportunities for growth for whatever current stressors it seems are managing you. And look back to the growth that has brought you where you are today.
* For further exploration and valuable understanding of your core needs, see the list below. Share these individual needs with special people in your life, and encourage them to share with you. You may be amazed at what you learn. These core needs are what make you unique. It is worthwhile to identify your top five or so needs, and frame your life around opportunities to have these met. Less stress and greater life satisfaction will abound!
Be deferred to
|BE CARED FOR
Be attended to
Taken care of
Make a point
Be listened to
Keep status quo
Be a critical link
Need to give
Do the right thing
Have a task
Have a cause
Make it happen
Be known for