Everywhere you look, there are articles touting the dangers of submitting to stress — that it is the worst possible thing for your health. We are urged to find our inner calm and are taught to avoid stress like, well, the plague. But, stress will inevitably find its way to you, one way or another (especially since actively trying to avoid stress is often more stressful than the original stress itself). But don’t worry, stress does not have to be as dangerous to your health as everyone believes. There are actually potential benefits to embracing your stress.
According to Kelly McGonigal, author of The Upside of Stress and Stanford lecturer, stress can make you stronger, smarter, and happier — if you know how to handle it. What’s the secret? Embrace your stress. Allow it to supercharge your body and brain. It’s impossible to avoid all stress forever, so the best thing you can do is be mindful and accept how you deal with it. According to a study, those who foolhardily try to avoid any and all stress are at risk for increased rates of depression, divorce and job loss. Why? Mainly, people who try to avoid stress at any cost begin to rely on harmful coping strategies like binge drinking or arguing with their loved ones. Stress simply cannot be avoided — but it can be accepted and handled.
What’s the best way to handle stress? Think of stress as a helpful reaction, not something that haunts you. The body’s natural stress response provides you with energy and focus to help you get through those tough times. Utilize the power, embrace it and when the chaos is over, the stress will drift away. Embracing stress is a way to grow and learn — especially since the brain rewires itself after stressful situations to remember and handle similar events in the future. So, the more you accept your short-term stress, the more you improve yourself and the better you will be able to handle other stresses in the future.
Yes, stress is dangerous — chronic stress, that is — that underlying stress that’s swept under the rug. When we continue to avoid our day-to-day stresses, when we don’t confront them, that is when they wreak havoc and spawn disease. But, in small spurts, when we accept our stress as a natural bodily reaction and use it as a temporary tool, stress can actually become an incredibly useful energizer. It’s all about your outlook.