Living-In with Stress
Stress is a word that often carries a negative connotation, invoking feelings of discomfort and unease. We often hear about the effects of stress on our physical and mental well-being, and it's true that excessive or chronic stress can indeed take a toll on our health. However, it's essential to recognize that stress is an inherent part of life, and we will all encounter it in one way or the other. Therefore the only choice that we have is to learn to live with it and make growth, resilience, and a deeper understanding of ourselves the defense mechanisms to sail through.
Stress is our body's natural response to demands or challenges, whether they are physical, emotional, or psychological. It's the surge of energy that prepares us to face a threat or accomplish a task. This "fight or flight" response is ingrained into our biology and has been crucial for human survival throughout history.
Modern life, though very different from our ancestral environment, still presents us with a myriad of stressors. From work deadlines and financial pressures to relationship struggles and health concerns, the sources of stress are varied and often complex for every individual. In a world that seems to move at an all-time increasing pace, it's crucial to develop strategies for living with stress in a way that doesn't compromise our well-being.
I remember the times when I was in college and there was a wave that ‘stress’ is a status symbol. To have it, meant that you are productive in life. However, with years the connotation changed and I see everyone around talking about stress and its negative impact.
While it might be challenging to believe, stress isn't entirely negative. In fact, according to the research, moderate levels of stress can be beneficial and even necessary for personal growth and development.
As a practicing psychologist, I see clients with stress who ask me “ Madam, do you ever experience stress? I am sure you never’’. I tell them even though I am a therapist, I am a human above all and stress is inevitable to all of us, therefore, I only have learnt to encounter it in a mindful manner. Here are a few ways stress can actually be advantageous and how we can cope with it:
Motivation and Productivity: Stress can provide the necessary push to meet deadlines, accomplish goals, and stay focused on tasks. The adrenaline rush that accompanies stress can enhance alertness and performance.
Resilience: Just as muscles grow stronger with resistance training, individuals can become emotionally and mentally more resilient through facing and overcoming stressors.
Learning to Adapt: Stressful situations often force us to think creatively, problem-solve, and adapt to new perspectives. These experiences contribute to our cognitive flexibility and ability to handle future challenges.
Self-Discovery: Under stress, we often discover a new side of ourselves and our capabilities. Overcoming challenges can reveal strengths and abilities we may not have realized we possessed.
Managing Stress: While embracing stress as a natural part of life is important, it's equally essential to manage and navigate it effectively.
Here are some strategies to help you live in harmony with stress:
Mindfulness: Mindfulness practice can help you stay in the present, manage racing thoughts, and reduce the feeling of being anxious.
Healthy Lifestyle Choices: We often don't realize the value of regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep while running around the clock. However, consistency matters, and these play a crucial role in minimizing the negative effects of stress on your body and mind.
Social Support: Connecting with friends, family, or support groups can provide a sense of belonging and emotional support during stressful times.
Utilizing the time wisely: Learn to prioritize tasks, delegate where necessary and manage your time effectively to prevent the accumulation of stress caused by procrastination or last-minute rushes.
Off routine work breaks: Too often when you are busy round the clock, it is bound to interfere with your well-being gradually. You may see the effects on your physical health even though you choose to ignore the signs like tiredness, loss of motivation, clouded thoughts, etc. Take up a hobby, and engage yourself in off-routine tasks every now and then to maintain the balance of life.
Setting Realistic Expectations: Striving for excellence is admirable, but setting unattainable standards can lead to unnecessary stress. Set achievable goals and recognize your accomplishments along the way.
Seeking Professional Help when you feel necessary: If stress becomes overwhelming or starts to interfere with your daily life, don't hesitate to seek guidance from a mental health professional.
Only embracing balance is ultimately the key to living with stress. It's about acknowledging the presence of stress without allowing it to dominate your life. When stress is viewed as a natural and even beneficial part of the living experience, its impact can be transformed from impairing to empowering. By cultivating resilience, practicing self-care, and developing effective coping strategies, you can navigate life's challenges with a sense of strength and purpose. Remember, it's not about eliminating stress, but rather learning to coexist with it while embracing the journey of life.
Tanvi Auradkar, Founding Partner and Chief Diversity Officer
Carpediem EdPsych Consultancy LLP
Carpediem would like to acknowledge the use of the photo by Tumisu on Pixabay