Monday, February 1, 2016

Why I'm Saying No To Stress

Choppy schedule readjustments, forgotten items, the missed lunch hour, social drama, and the pile of assignments waiting for me on my desk have me struggling. I gravitate towards my bed, my laptop and headphones, to pull up the new favorite show of mine on Netflix. It's time for a break even though I haven't even started. I'm escaping. Running from the staticky thing waiting nearby.


Escaping is what I often do. But I can just as easily be overwhelmed. When I totter on the edge of control and live like I'm being pursued by a vicious beast out to smother me with the things I haven't done yet.

Does stress ever take control of your life? Does it make you run away from responsibility or make you race around in a mad rush to get everything done? It has done that to me for years, and I've decided to put a stop to it.

I made the decision after listening to a woman talking about how to make stress your friend. I'll let her say all the science and statistics stuff. I'm more concerned with the implications of her talk. Listening to her helped me realize a few things.

Stress is Natural

You're taking a math test you didn't study for. That tough teacher gives you a huge assignment on a topic you don't understand. A long week stretches out before you with more bumps than a backcountry dirt road. What are you experiencing?

An accelerated heart rate, sweating, breathing faster...these are all symptoms of being under stress.

They can also be symptoms of other things like running a marathon, talking to your crush, or even playing laser tag. So why do we label one situation as stressful and the other as exhilarating? I'll get to that in a moment. But first, I want to mention something very important here.

This may come as a surprise, but our bodies are prepared to handle these symptoms. Yeah, really! God created us with the ability to deal with the surprise situations that pop up in life. Everything from financial woes to a new sport, we are equipped to process the stimulus and deal with it. So why do we hear about people who have mental breakdowns or heart problems because of too much stress? Isn't stress always a bad thing? Maybe, to some extent, we are not looking at stress the right way.

A Gateway to Courage?

Think about how we normally deal with our bodies natural reactions to difficult or unseen circumstances. There are two basic ways that people can default to when confronted with a potential stressor.

  1. We can process the situation as threatening and become tense, resulting in Stress
  2. We can process the situation as a challenge and become alert, resulting in Eustress, the good stress. 

We all know what reacting the first way does to us. We become miserable. Our lives become an endless cycle of worrying and nervous fretting. But the second option, what does that look like in real life?

I can remember one time way back in my elementary school days when I had to give my very first public presentation of a report. My report was on wolves, and I loved wolves! Having to give a report in front of people was super scary and I could have been overwhelmed. But I chose to see this public presentation as a huge opportunity to tell everyone all about wolves! Seeing that stress as an opportunity, even a personal challenge, became my gateway to courage. It happened so long ago, but I still remember that presentation as the day I discovered how much I love researching topics.

What if difficult situations could be your gateway to courage? If you saw stress as a challenge to rise to, how would your world look different?

Saying No To Stress

The bad stress that is. I'd like to keep taking part in the good stress. Stress can be very beneficial you know! Looking at it the right way, Stress can help you...

  • be more social with new people
  • work faster under pressure
  • tackle large problems
  • try new things

Yes, the schedule will still change suddenly, I may end up forgetting something on an assignment or deal with social bumps in the road. But I don't have to let that overwhelm me and neither do you. This is a challenge to change how you think about stress. Instead of looking at the new or unplanned as a threat, see it as an opportunity to grow. This is not the one tip that will make life perfect, but I hope this is a perspective changer that will encourage and help you.

How do you deal with stress? Have you ever found that feeling a bit stressed actually helped you? What ways do you have to relax and de-stress? Any questions or comments are always welcome. 


  1. This is great advice. I'm really stressed right now, so this is perfect timing for me!

    1. I know right? As soon as I wrote this post I had one of the most stressful Monday's I can remember. Plus, I went through my first late-night study session in forever! I had to really remember a lot of this stuff and my college friends had a laugh when I complained about the stress. :) Are you in college as well?


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