Is stress always a negative emotion? Unfortunately, stress has received a bad press with many of us assuming that stress is bad.
True, overwhelming feelings of stress are not good. It drains the life force out of us, making the day, evening and night time feel like wading through treacle. It affects every aspect of our lives, from relationships with loved ones to how productive we are.
There are all kinds of techniques that we can partake in to reduce stress, from corporate massage sessions such as those offered by OnSite Plus, to taking note of the teachings of old as part of yoga, Pilates, acupuncture and so on.
When Stress Becomes a Problem
Stress is a common emotion, one that can be short-lived and necessary. When it hangs around it become a problem and when it starts coloring every aspect of our lives, stress needs to be dealt with.
Stress is caused by two things: the situation you are in, and how your body reacts to this situation or circumstance. Just knowing these two things can change your whole outlook on stress, and how you can deal with it.
Changing Stress into Eustress
Attitudes to mental health issues and illnesses are changing, coming a long way from the flippancy commonly associated and shown to people fighting stress in their lives.
There are many helpful organizations that can help with all kinds of mental health issues. Stress in order to be a positive energy within our lives needs to become eustress.
Is there a magic formula for turning negative stress into eustress? In one way yes, but we also need to face our fears, acknowledge them and do it anyway.
A Stress-Inducing Example
Possibly the most common stress-inducing situation that instantly places someone in a distressing and emotional state is public speaking. Rows and rows of expectant faces, all waiting to hear your words on a vastly engrossing subject.
You stumble, falter and stutter. You blush, you sweat, your palms and fingers no longer seem connected to your brain – you are under stress. You heart beat is racing, your breathing is fast and shallow.
Your performance is not great. But you get the words out. When you have finished, you feel drained and lethargic.
There is a way of handling this stress and turning into eustress.
The first step in changing the negative in to the positive is to understand what causes you stress. Inour example, public speaking of any kind can send someone into a negative spin of stress, worrying about it hours, days and weeks in advance.
Think about what causes you stress. Name them and make a list, a cathartic exercise in itself. Realizing how often you have to face this stressful situation can also help in changing it to eustress.
The next time you are facing this stress-inducing situation you need to anticipate how you will feel. Stress is an individual emotion that produces different reactions in different people. They can be physical impacts and emotional ones too.
For example, at the thought of public speaking you might become over anxious, sweat, feel your heart rate quicken and breathing become jagged in its pattern.
Understanding that this is how you will feel is an important step in facing stress and changing it.
The biggest step change is to stop viewing these emotions and reactions as negative. All those rows of expectant faces are not there to cause you distress but to hear your words, enjoying the knowledge that you are sharing with them.
The increased heartbeat is helping to energize the body. The breathing can be slowed by taking deep breaths and making a point of finding a rhythm again with every breath in and out.
- Don’t be afraid of fear – instead, welcome it. When challenging situations present themselves allow the heart beat to quicken and the sweaty palms to happen because this is emotional vitality.
- Positive expectations – you are doing a great job, you need to keep hold of this vision. You are prepared for tasks, you are good at what you do and your abilities are excellent. Believe it by telling yourself this.
- Talk positive too – inner emotions are your responsibility but the image you portray is important in creating eustress too. There is a saying, ‘worse things have happened…’ and this is great way of understanding that actually, the situation is not all that bad.
- Perfectionism is your enemy – so relax any perfectionist streak you have because perfectionism can walk hand-in-hand with failure. It also stops you facing and taking on new challenges.
- Breathing is key – if nothing else, focus on your breathing. A slow, rhythmic breathing with deep breaths held for a few seconds more than normal create emotional space for the brain to ‘catch up’ and see what is happening beyond the stress. James Trotter
How do you deal with stress? Tell your ideas in the comments below.