Most people agree that stress is bad for our health. Yet because stress seems hard to avoid and because so many others feel some level of stress, we often do little or don’t make it a priority to reduce our stress levels.
I’ve written many times about what stress does to the body and also about different ways that we can reduce stress. But what if we decided that stress wasn’t the issue after all? Could you wrap your head around that one?
My first “aha” moment on a new way of thinking about stress was when I watched a TED talk by Kelly McGonigal titled “How to Make Stress Your Friend”.
Kelly explained so eloquently that stress is only bad for us if we believe it is. And she noted a large and interesting study that demonstrated this idea. Those individuals who believed stress was bad for their health experienced negative health symptoms from stress. And those who didn’t believe that didn’t experience the same health issues.
Her main point was that we can reframe our stress as good. In other words, it’s our perceptions about it that makes the difference. For example, the sweaty palms of nervousness we can reframe as excitement and our body’s way of helping us to get the energy we need to achieve something big.
This new idea can be very empowering since that means we are in complete control of our stress. However, it can also be frustrating because then we don’t have anyone else to blame for our stress either!
How can we suddenly change our perceptions like this?
Stress has become a generic word and what we need to do is go deeper and find out what the stress is about. Stress could be the over-achiever’s word for fear. For example, if we’re running late and feeling stressed about it, underneath it we’re worried about what other people will think of us when we’re not perfect.
So, what can we do? Here are some ideas…
- Change our language to shift our mindset
- Use mindset activities such as meditation or EFT
- Get a coach, therapist or another practitioner to help
Change our language
We need to do the emotional work around being worried about what others will think. And reframing the language we’re using can help to switch our thinking. For example, make the following substitutions:
- Replace “busy” with “productive
- Replace “nervous” with “excited”
- Replace “I have/need to” with “I want/get to”
Pick something that you find yourself stressing about and choose another word to substitute. Try that on for a few weeks and see how it shifts your perspective.
Practice Mindset Activities
You can probably think of many mindset activities such as meditation, journaling, deep breathing, tapping, etc. There’s no one right activity for everyone. It just needs to be something that you will consistently practice. These types of activities actually shift your brain chemistry so that you feel happier and more satisfied in your life.
Get a Coach or Other Practitioner
Sure, mindset work is easier said than done. And even though there are lots of options to help us with our mindset and beliefs about stress, additional help may be useful. For most people, an objective perspective can make a big difference. We don’t think twice about getting a coach to help us train for a competition or event, so we need to extend that idea into other areas of our life. Reach out and get the help you deserve.
I have listed a few ideas here for you to start with on your own. You can also share your ideas and learn more in our FB Group. Or, book a quick chat with me where I can learn about your goals, understand what you’ve tried so far and help you decide what step to take next. Let me be your strategist and book a free call to discuss some ideas here.