The word ‘stress’ refers to a state of mental or emotional strain which occurs when we feel overcome by the demands life makes on us. These demands can come from any area of our lives: work, relationships, or financial pressures.
However, sometimes stress can also act as a motivator, and it can even be essential to survival.
The modern connotation of the word is wholly negative. We are accustomed to thinking of stress as a threat to our physical and mental health, but it doesn’t take a huge mental leap to realise that sometimes stress is good for us.
Exercise, for example, puts stress on our heart, lungs, and muscles, but we all know that it makes us stronger in the long run, and we’ve all experienced instances when stress has helped us perform in critical situations.
So, what if we shift our perspective on stress?
The term ‘eustress’ was coined in 1975 to refer to stress which can have a beneficial effect on health, motivation, performance, and emotional wellbeing. We can use this term as a tool to transform the way we interact with our stress.
Name it and reframe it. First, acknowledge your stress. Notice signs such as constant worries, low energy, a short temper, and an inability to focus. Then, shift your mindset. Imagine yourself energised by a positive challenge or an exciting experience, and try to look at the source of your stress in this light.
Embrace the emotions. Your emotions provide a map telling you what you need and what is important to you. Stop and take stock of them, but don’t judge them or recriminate yourself for them. Then, search for a solution. Call someone you trust, take a walk in the park, or do breathing exercises for 2-3 minutes.
The first step to dealing with stress is really just to slow down and look it in the eye. Every emotion we feel relates to our wellbeing, but what we often find is that the intensity of our feelings subsides when we simply acknowledge and accept them.
For more information about coping with stress and maximising wellbeing, you can read our full ebook, “Wellness in the Workplace: Tips for Working from Anywhere” here.