When we think of stress and anxiety, they are usually considered negative states. After all, stress can cause us to feel apprehensive and nervous, or to worry endlessly. Anxiety often distracts us from things in life that genuinely matter and require our attention.
In addition, stress and worry are often about things that are outside of our control. There isn’t much that we can do to quell a global pandemic or fix a broken economy. Yet, you may find yourself ruminating and fretting though you know both activities just make you feel worse and improve nothing.
Indeed, unchecked stress does impact our lives. However, it is possible to harness the power of pressure and stress for good. The key is to be intentional and challenge the thoughts and fears that keep you stuck.
If you are curious about how you can allow stress and anxiety to work for you, consider these strategies:
1. Harness Stress to Focus
One advantage of stress is that it allows you to focus on what you are doing. For example, were you the kind of student that always postponed an assignment until the last minute? There’s a reason for that! The stress of the imminent deadline narrows your focus and allows you to concentrate on the task.
2. Stress Boosts Creativity
Stress is also a resource you can tap into to boost your creativity. Again, that immediacy of the moment helps you to think outside of the box, and consider options that you hadn’t previously realize. It’s that clarity that allows you to do your best work and be highly productive.
3. Learning to Set Your Priorities
When you are stressed, it requires you to prioritize. For instance, let’s say that you were planning to have a relaxing Friday with work, wrapping up some loose ends before the weekend. Then, suddenly, a last-minute request comes in from a client that needs to get done quickly. That requires you to shift gears quickly to get the task done.
4. Taking on a Challenge
A challenge wouldn’t be challenging unless there was a degree of stress associated with it. Sports are a great example. Running a marathon can be fun, but also stressful. There’s the physical stress of running the race, as well as the mental effort that it takes to do it.
It’s an excellent example of how experiencing a stressful situation is good for you. It teaches you what you are capable of and that it’s possible to push beyond your perceived limits.
5. Stress and Planning
You can harness the power of stress when planning for an activity, event, challenge, etc. Using the marathon example again, to run all those miles, it takes months of training and preparation. You increase the number of miles you run each week to prepare for the race.
Also, you must go through all of the logistics of getting to the competition (whether it’s locally or out of state) and how you will recover afterward. Planning can be stressful, especially if it’s your first time doing this. But you can use it to your advantage and be successful, too.
6. Working with Others
When you feel overly stressed, that is the time to bring in others for help. Stress is a sign that things are not going well. This perception is especially true if you are constantly feeling stressed out about a situation or problem. It can be hard asking for help. But remember, this is an opportunity to stretch yourself, ask for support, and get help (especially if that’s something foreign to you).
7. Growth and Change
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of stress is that you learn what you are made of. However, it’s an opportunity for growth and change, as well.
Remember, change doesn’t happen when everything is okay. Just like when exercising, a muscle only strengthens when it’s under stress. The same goes for you, too. When those stressful moments occur, try not to look at them as obstacles. Instead, try to see them as opportunities for growth and change.
Most of all, if anxiety has reached the point of overwhelming your life, depression and anxiety counseling is an important next step. Let’s work together to ensure stress doesn’t keep you from the life you want. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me for support.