This just in: Stress can be good.

I heard something interesting today on the way to work that made me stop and think. If you know me, you know I think a lot (and it’s not always productive). But this is a completely different kind of “thinking”, the kind where everything you believed you knew about a subject is challenged and your mind sort of explodes.

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TEDtalks have recently become my best friend as commuting is now part of my daily routine. I hate driving, I always have and chances are I always will… so finding something to distract myself in a positive way was a must. I’m sooo thankful for the Podcasts app! Anyway, I digress. Here is the life changing statement from today’s chosen Tedtalk, “The old understanding of stress as an unhelpful relic of our animal instincts is being replaced by the understanding that stress actually makes us socially smart — it’s what allows us to be fully human.” That Kelly McGonigal is a genius, I tell you. Basically what she’s saying is I’m either extremely socially smart or I will be soon if I start looking at stress a different way, right? (Here’s hoping.)

Most of us are of the understanding that stress does terrible things to your mind, body, health, etc., and we are right. Some others think stress is a necessary part of our lives, as it causes us to grow, change, and readies our “flight-or-fight” instincts (you know, for survival and stuff). They’re also right. Not to sound too cliché here but “whether you think you can or cannot, you are right.” Our minds are a powerful, powerful thing. I urge you to listen to this podcast so you can see for yourself the studies done on stress and the mind. Visit the video here: How to make stress your friend 

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If you’re anything like me, you take on way more than you can handle. I just want to do everything for everyone all of the time and my least favorite word is, “no”. Believe it or not, the caring for others part has helped me manage stress much more than I realized. The focus isn’t on what I can’t handle that way… When I am overwhelmed and/or overcome with the type of stress that can cripple a grown man I always turn to friends. I see what I can do for others or I volunteer my time for a good cause. It doesn’t make my “to-do” list any shorter but instead of worrying and stressing about the millions of tasks I’ve committed to, being able to be a part of the reason someone else is smiling helps me cope. This study brought to light the very reason that it’s essential to have relationships and I’m so glad I listened, because I was wondering how my packed schedule hasn’t killed me yet.

When we see stress as a positive thing we can appreciate that it helps us develop. Being vulnerable and asking for help are (were) excruciating for me. I saw it as a sign of weakness, a belief that I just couldn’t hack it and what good am I if having to rely on others for anything, ever? Well, friends, I now see that allowing others to be there for me is not just good for me. It can help them, too. And it drives up oxytocin levels, YAY! For those who may be unfamiliar – Oxytocin: Widely referred to as the love hormone, oxytocin has also been dubbed the hug hormone, cuddle chemical, moral molecule, and the bliss hormone due to its effects on behavior. Who doesn’t want more of that?!

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So, between the 4 weddings from now until the end of May (bridal showers, bachelorette parties, alterations, travel, hair/makeup, and just general worriedness of perfection for each), babies being born, kids’ birthdays, the packing and unpacking, the daily commute and the constant need to rearrange my schedule and create new habits, I’m going to take it all in and realize that this too shall pass. I’m grateful for my friends. This will help me grow. It’ll help me absorb new ideas and be more prepared. Teaching me organization skills all the while. (I feel this motivational self-talk may be  helpful… I think it’s working!) It’ll show me just how strong I really am, or it’ll force me to become stronger. I’m going to see it all as a blessing and take from it the good and learn from the bad. I encourage you to see your stresses merely as experiences and not setbacks. Gain the wisdom. Do for others. Change your mindset and truly believe that you are getting better, every single day. Stress on, my friend, stress on!

Remember that mental and emotional health are just as important as physical health.

***Chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort. Go after whatever it is that creates meaning in your life and then trust yourself to handle the stress that follows***

 

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