Transforming Stress

When we think about stress, we know it’s something that we don’t like, makes us uncomfortable and feels toxic. Stress can be thought about as a feeling that arises when something that you care about is at stake. I’m sure we have all experienced some of the physical changes that take place during the stress response; your heart starts to pound to give your body energy to react, a wave of anxiety, anger, or other consuming thoughts. This all happens because something that you care about is at stake.

Depending on what’s at stake, your community, your resources, etc. will determine how you respond to stress. Some ways that we respond can be very well suited while others are not truly in our best interest.

Many of the feelings that we experience that come along with stress can make us feel very uncomfortable. Think about what it feels like to be anxious, you may feel doomed, don’t have what it takes or how awful things are going to be. To have a more positive and accepting view on what anxiety is there for can be helpful. It is the body and the brain working you together to help you to rise to the challenge. It is a sign that you care about something. What it is not is some intuition telling you how terrible things are going to be. When looking at anxiety from a scientific point and realizing that it is simply just energy, it can be harnessed for positive results. Not to me mistaken as a sign that you don’t have what it takes.

People often think they need to control their inner experiences before making a change. For example, I’ll stop eating junk food when I stop feeling stressed and stop craving ice cream. On the other hand, when you want to transform your feelings of stress, the best way to start is to accept that you cannot control that inner experience. There are many people that whenever they experience any stress, they fall back on an underlying belief that there is something wrong with me and if I were good enough then I wouldn’t be stressed out. This can cause people to lean back instead of lean in and eventually stop pursuing what they are chasing. It truly is your body and brain trying to move you toward achieving something you care about.

The stress that you are feeling is in relationship to something meaningful that you have chosen. The things that are most meaningful to us give rise to both the highs and the lows in our life. There are ways to cope with it without numbing out or calming down, by sensing who and what you care about and still feel energized and concerned without it being a toxic state. We must learn to give up the fantasy that there will be a time when we are never angry, worried, and life will just be going perfectly. It’s not always about lowering the stress response, but rather transforming the energy of the response for a more positive way to cope with it. We must recognize that stress is here, and it will come in moments, it up to us to decide what kind of stress we want to have by the way we respond to the stress.

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