HappinessMental HealthMotivationPsychListResearchSelf Care

5 Ways to Turn Stress into Your Best Friend

Psychologist Kelly McGonigal did a TED talk that influences others to re-think about the way they perceive stress. Often, when we hear the word “stress,” we associate it with terms, such as “pressure,” “trouble,” and “tension.” When people feel stressed, they break into sweats and their heart rate goes up. This is why stress may affect responses and factors that increase one’s risk of getting heart disease. But, what if stress can be good for you?

A study was done at Harvard University in which the participants were told that their bodies were energizing  to prepare them to meet challenges. When the participants viewed their stress response as being helpful rather than detrimental, their blood vessels stayed relaxed. In fact, their cardiovascular profile looked similar to when people experience moments of courage and joy. This biological change can increase one’s longevity by strengthening resilience to life’s challenges. Psych2Go shares with you 5 ways to turn stress into your best friend:

1. Don’t say, “I can’t. Instead, say, “I will.”

Practice this mantra every day. Don’t hold yourself back from a conflicting situation just because it would be easier to give up. When your body senses danger, it creates a fight-or-flight response. Train yourself not to run away. Stand up to fear and allow the challenges to motivate you rather than influencing you to cower.

2. Do something new that scares you every day.

It doesn’t have to be anything as drastic as skydiving, but by exposing yourself to new situations you never thought you’d ever want to try, it builds up your endurance to accept stress. Ask your crush out on a date. Move to your dream city. Join a social cause that you care about. Seize the day and treat every day like it’s your last.

3. Seek human connection and surround yourself with people who care about you.

Oxytocin is a hormone known as the “cuddle hormone,” because when you hug someone, oxytocin is released in your brain. But, it’s also known as a stress hormone. This is because when you’re experiencing difficulties in life, your body tells you to seek others for support to help you relieve stress. Learn to rely on your loved ones when you’re in need of guidance and reciprocate that support when they need it, too.

4. “Make it happen. Shock everyone.” —Anonymous

Go after your dreams, even if that translates to a more strenuous career. Don’t stay in what you’re familiar with just to avoid discomfort. Go after what is meaningful to you, because creating meaning will always be more fulfilling than settling. No resilience is ever built at a dead end when you don’t provide opportunities to challenge yourself to get better at something.

5. Trust that stress will help you become a better person.

Believe in yourself. Tell yourself that you can handle what seems impossible. You must always nurture your potential and let your fears disintegrate. Have the courage to choose motivation and keep your eyes open to what is ahead.

How do you turn stress into your best friend? Leave a comment down below!

 

References:

McGonigal, K. (Director). (2013, September 4). How to Make Stress Your Friend [Video file]. Retrieved September 21, 2017.

Catherine Huang
Catherine Huang graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a BA in English. She has a penchant for storytelling, ramen, and psychology. Catherine is a writer for Psych2Go and looks forward to reaching out to its growing community, hoping to encourage others to tap into self-examination and confront life's challenges head on with the most difficult questions.

2 Comments

  1. I think this is a really interesting take on the topic of stress. Rather than focusing on the elimination of stress altogether, which is not always possible, transforming it into a tool for your benefit is a way more practical approach.

    I think that being mindful of connecting stress as one of the leading causes of heart disease is important. A lot of research in this area has been hesitant about labeling it a “cause” because it’s not super clear that stress “causes” cardiac events. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2633295/).
    What made this topic resonate for you personally? Have you had experience successfully employing this strategy for stress management?

    1. Hi Valencia, thank you so much for reading! =) You bring up an important and valid point. I recently fixed that portion of the article. Hopefully, it reads a lot clearer and more efficiently. =) Thank you for bringing that to my attention! This topic resonated for me personally, because I’ve been sensitive to stress all my life. I’ve seen it in very black and white terms, and it has always been a struggle for me to find common ground to accept and embrace stress with wide open arms. But, thanks to CBT and being exposed to Kelly McGonigal’s TED talk, both have inspired me to change the way I see stress. I try to tell myself as often as possible that stress will turn me into a champion. Slowly, I am noticing a difference and shift in my mood and how much my resilience has strengthened over time. The mind is such an important tool that it’s important we utilize it in a way that builds us up rather than destroying us. Here is also one of my other articles that is worth reading if you’re interested in shifting perspectives in how we see things: http://psych2go.net/3-questions-using-cognitive-behavioral-therapy-change-destructive-patterns-behavior/

      I hope you have a great day! =)

Leave a Response

Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.

Skip to toolbar