Turn stress to strength

Continual stress can make us sick. But recent research shows that it also can be a resource in a busy day.

Our bodies are amazing. They are perfectly suited for the Earth’s environment and has equipped us with a variety of defense mechanisms to ensure human survival. One of these defenses is stress. When we are frightened or stressed it floods the hormone cortisol into the body, releases energy and make us ready to fight, flee, or – more relevant in today’s society – work harder. Unfortunately, daily life can give us a disproportionate number of situations that stresses us.

But recent research suggests that it is not always the actual stress which is a risk to your health, but also how you think about being stressed. That is if you are experiencing stress as positive or negative.

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Stress prepares your body for challenges

Kelly McGonigal, a psychologist and researcher at Stanford University, believes that we can save lives by changing the way we think about stress. After collecting a number of recent studies showing the positive aspects of stress, she has concluded that stress is dangerous for you if you think it’s dangerous. In one study, those who had positive thoughts about stress had even better health than those who were not particularly stressed. In addition, a “stress is good for me attitude” led to better work performance and fewer psychological complications.

According to McGonigal it may help to try to look at stress as a resource that gives you more energy, and prepares you to meet challenges.

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Hot tips for better stress management

The challenges may be many in a busy schedule with deadlines at work, children to be delivered in kindergartens, recreational activities and preparation of dinners. And stress-related disorders such as anxiety and burnouts are not something you just snap your fingers  out of. But before you get that far, it may be worth attempting McGonigals method to try to appreciate the stress, instead of worrying about how dangerous it is. Perhaps it is precisely the concerns that are contributes to make you sick.

Here are some tips on how to make stress to your strength:

  • Once you know the typical signs of stress, faster heart rate and faster breathing, think of this as confirmations of your body functioning properly, and get ready to tackle today’s challenges.
  • Try to appreciate the effect of stress, that it makes you tougher and able to contribute more.
  • If you have the time and opportunity, use the sting of the extra energy for a quick workout. Squats and doing the plank can for example be done anywhere, even in the office.
  • When you’re stressed, your body is in so-called “fight or flight” mode. This can be used to say and do things you normally don’t dare to say. For example, request relief from colleagues?
  • Think positive and towards a solution – and use the extra power to realize the solution.
  • Enjoy the energy waves, it makes you feel alive!
  • Use your power to say NO!


Sources: nhi.no, ted.com


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