Stress Isn’t Bad For You, But How You Respond Can Be

It is a common belief that stress is negative, and because of this, we oftentimes do everything we can to avoid stressful situations. In fact, our efforts to avoid stress, are actually hindering our abilities to live enhanced lives.

Humans are naturally resistant to change. This is because we are wired with a negativity bias, often allowing us to see the negative, or the risks in situations, rather than the positives or the potential opportunities. This is why many people become settled and complacent in their lives without challenging themselves to pursue greater fulfillment. Avoiding stressful situations can take many forms. Maybe we choose not to go for the promotion because we want to avoid all of the stressful tasks associated with the advancement, or maybe we don’t want to tackle  a new project because of the amount of work it would take and the potential temporary disruption.

Whatever the reason might be, we often hold ourselves, our families, or even our companies back to avoid stressful situations.  We settle for underachieving rather than risking the possibility of problems.

But is stress really that bad?  An article in Business Insider looked at that question.  “Feeling stressed is a sign your life is meaningful”,  author Shana Lebowitz writes, “[Let’s] say you’re one of the many Americans who (understandably) perceive stress as negative and try to avoid it all costs. Chances are that when you do experience a stressful situation — like that job interview — your body will release higher levels of stress hormones like cortisol, which can have damaging effects on your immune system and overall health.  But let’s say you go into that interview understanding and even embracing the potential advantages of stress. Studies indicate that not only will you have a healthier physiological response; you’re also more likely to find meaning in your struggle and learn from it.”

Lebowitz goes on to discuss research from psychologist, Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., who aims to help people live happier, healthier lives.  According to Dr. McGonigal, studies indicate that stress and worry can be an indicator that your life has meaning. “Being stressed generally means you’re engaged in something that really matters to you — whether that’s interviewing for a dream job or taking care of your kid.”

Want to learn how to deal with your stress? Developing an Adaptive and Resilient Mindset™ is crucial. TRACOM’s Dr. Natalie Wolfson describes 6 Steps to Building Resilience in a recent American Management Association. These 6 steps are great starting points to enhance your mindset in dealing with stress.

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