Transform Stress into Excitement
When you get stressed for a prolonged period, you open a Pandora’s Box of bad psychological chain reactions. You become prone to bursts of anger, an anxiety disorder, a lack of focus on your long-term goals, and damaging relationships from poor conflict management.
Stress in short bursts however, is a beneficial reaction. It drives creativity and focus. Psychologists call this eustress. In contrast, sustained stress blinds you to your accomplishments. It makes planning and concentration difficult, and it damages your sense of self-worth and confidence.
So what can you do? Research shows that when you consider stress not as “stressful” but as “exciting,” you reduce many of its negative physiological symptoms. We get stressed about being stressed, which only compounds the problem. Thinking of it as useful interrupts the emotional layering.
For demanding tasks, do what Dr. Kelly McGonigal advocates. Think about your situation as “necessary and unnecessary” instead of “stressful” or “not stressful.” After all, things happen beyond your control that should evoke the extremes of your stress-response system. But most of your stress reactions, the everyday ones that trap your self-esteem and confidence, are “self-generated.” Not only that, they are reversible. As Dr. McGonigal says:
“In a sense, that’s the only really bad stress because it leads to so much unnecessary suffering. For most people, the best thing they can do to reduce their stress and improve their happiness is to start to question these kinds of stress-generating thoughts.” Think of your stress as a benefit, not a hindrance. With practice and intent, you can be confident when facing routine and freak stress situations.”