Reframing old thought patterns might not happen as quickly as we might like, but adopting a fresh perspective can be positively shifting— especially when we learn to view an old pattern through a new and shiny frame.
Let’s face it: stress is messy (at least most of us think so), and it can feel burdensome and debilitating at times, especially when we’ve been told to avoid it or turn it off as if there’s a magical switch for it.
We know it’s not that easy… and that stress management takes time, effort, and sometimes even professional help.
So in case you were curious, this post is NOT about how to AVOID stress, or even how to heal from it (that’s an entirely different topic).
Today is simply about shifting perspective:
I want you to EMBRACE and LOVE your stress as if it were a cute puppy dog you just found on your front lawn.
Instead of viewing your stress like a zoo animal that should be behind bars, embrace your stress like you would a household pet. Sure, you might find it annoying at times, but also recognize it’s a part of you (therefore you love it anyway).
You see, I’d much rather encourage you to embrace your stress and direct its energy towards something uplifting and productive.
In my opinion the worst type of stress is the kind that leaves you paralyzed, because this type of stress is not only imprisoning, but also keeps you stressed for longer periods of time. I know from personal experience. It’s like being caught in a hamster wheel without being able to see any other way out…
But believe it or not, not all stress is bad or unnecessary. Some forms of stress can actually be positive and healthy for you, especially when channelled into these three areas.
3 reasons why you should LOVE stress:
1. Stress builds social connection.
The tend-and-befriend stress response is actually a driving force for building strong social connection. This type of stress is activated by the hormone oxytocin. When oxytocin is released during stress, it’s actually encouraging you to reach out for some necessary bonding time with others. Ever have moments where you just want to call up your best friend, or ask someone for a hug? The tend-and-befriend response is a mechanism for self-healing, but is also great for bringing people closer together.
2. Stress is empowering.
Have you ever heard stories about mothers saving their children from the weight of a 3,000 lb. car? Well, that’s all thanks to the fight-or-flight response that kicks in during high-stress, life-or-death situations. When you experience this type of stress, it’s probably the closest you’ll ever get to turning into a real-life superhero. Stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are released, thereby allowing your muscles and brain to use energy more efficiently and effectively. This form of stress makes you hyper-attentive, and can even give you increased confidence and strength. Hello, wonder woman!
3. Stress creates flow.
This is a less-threatening type of stress, where the body and brain tap into what’s called a challenging response. This stress response gives you a surge of energy that helps you perform well under pressure. We can all use more of this type of stress, am I right? Different from the fight-or-flight response, this stress type brings on a clear sense of focus that is not activated by fear.
You can actually hone into this type of stress by immersing yourself into what’s known as a “flow state”—an enjoyable state of being, where you are completely absorbed in what you are doing. Whether it’s a craft, art, or skill, fully engaging in an activity—like surgery, sport, music, or art—can actually fire certain parts of the brain that trigger increased confidence, higher concentration, and peak performance abilities.
This week’s challenge:
I challenge you to become aware of the stress you are feeling each day this week, and notice how your stress might influence your attitude and behavior. Are you getting caught in a hamster wheel (negative cycle), or are you finding interesting ways to re-channel your stress? Identify what type of stress you are experiencing – is it a challenging response, fight-or-flight response, or tend-and-befriend response? What patterns and tendencies do you notice?
P.S If you have any breakthroughs throughout the week regarding this topic, share on the comments section of the blog, or on the #101holisticways IG hashtag. You never know who will be inspired by your experience or shared wisdom, so please do not shy away from sharing!