Too blessed to be stressed? Stress is often considered to be negative, but not all stress is bad. The times in my life when I experienced the most growth, were often the most stressful: getting through graduate school with small children, training for a half marathon, or speaking before large groups of people. Eustress, or positive stress, is healthy, enhances brain development, is short lived and can give one a sense of fulfillment. It feels exciting and it can improve our performance, concentration and motivation.
Stress is simply our body’s way of responding to any type of demand and is required for growth to occur. However, stress levels can become toxic if they are too intense and persist for a long period of time. Negative or toxic stress can result from a number of things, including legal and financial problems, marital problems, abuse, discrimination, chronic neglect, or any other type of adverse experience. It disrupts the brain structure and is associated with mental and physical health problems such as depression, anxiety, weight gain, heart disease and digestive problems, just to name a few. It is pretty difficult to come up with any sort of medical disorder that is not caused by or at least aggravated by stress.
So if you are experiencing toxic/negative stress, it is important to make some very conscious life changes. Here are a few healthy habits that will help you to manage stress:
- Connect with others: We are social beings and do well in the presence of others. Talking with others can release hormones that reduce stress, even if you cannot change the stressful situation. So stay connected to positive people in your life to combat the negative effects of stress.
- Do something you enjoy: You may feel that you’re too busy to engage in pleasurable activities, but studies have found that individuals who engage in more frequent enjoyable leisure activities have better psychological and physical functioning. For some ideas about pleasurable activities, check out my blog, Get Up and Do Something.
- Get moving: Exercise releases endorphins that boost your mood and make you feel good. It can also serve as a valuable distraction to your daily worries. You don’t have to begin with an intense workout regimen. Short, 10-minute bursts of activity that elevate your heart rate and make you break out into a sweat can help to relieve stress and give you more energy and optimism.
- Focus your mind: The brain functions best when it only focuses on one thing at a time. Multitasking substantially reduces efficiency, puts stress on our system and causes us to make more errors. To improve your focus, turn off background noise, turn away from distracting activities, and eliminate the pull of computers, smart phones and other such devices.
- Be positive: Instead of being pessimistic, setting unrealistic expectations, engaging in negative self-talk, or always seeing the glass half-empty, make an effort to focus on the positive things in your life. The simple act of keeping a gratitude journal and focusing on all that’s good in your life can help reduce stress and give you a new perspective. Being positive helps you to understand that you, indeed, are too blessed to be stressed.
- Practice mindfulness: It has been said that we only spend about 10% of our time in the present moment, while we spend the rest of our time anticipating what’s ahead or reflecting on what’s already happened. Mindfulness-paying attention on purpose, in the present moment– can help relieve stress, improve sleep, and reduce or alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. For tips on mindfulness practices, check out my blog, Five Ways to Step Into the Present.
These are just a few healthy habits that can help you to manage stress. Remember that not all stress is bad, but it doesn’t hurt to practice some of these healthy habits. Show that you are too blessed to be stressed by practicing mindfulness, being positive, connecting with others, exercising, focusing your mind and doing something you enjoy. Share your story by leaving a reply at the bottom of this post. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.