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How to Use Stress to Your Advantage

What is Stress?

Simply Put, Stress is the reaction to any sort of pressure that is perceived as unmanageable. Stress could be physical, where your body is put under extreme pressure as well as mental, for example, remember your last examination or a major job interview and the pressure you had on you, you shall get an idea. 

Stress is usually undesirable for any person experiencing it and is also quite unhealthy if it reaches the higher end of the spectrum. Animals, Children, Humans, everyone experiences stress and tries best to avoid it. 

Effects of Stress on the Body & Mind

Stress takes a toll on both the mind and the body. When you’re stressed your body starts releasing the stress hormone called Cortisol aka the Fight-or-Flight Hormone to cope up. Cortisol then causes an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure immediately. This is alright and required to a certain extent. But when you’re going through extreme stress, the amount of cortisol in your blood increases drastically hence, you feel the ground beneath you moving, your hands trembling, your rate of breathing increases, and your mind doesn’t seem so sharp all of a sudden. 

However, all of the above was more common back in the day. Today, Stress is something that is more gradual but it does reach an extreme if not managed. After all, today you barely wake up and encounter a lion on your way to work. 

Stress in the long-term is bound to increase your chances of developing physical & psychological problems such as decreased Immunity, Heart Diseases, Inflammation, Diabetes, Headaches, Insomnia, Depression & Anxiety. But in the short-term scenario, you’ll just feel more tired than usual, experience weakness, and have headaches

Stress-Management

A majority of the self-help genre written in the past decade and partly even the popularization of spirituality and meditation is a result of people not being able to deal with stress well. 

But not all stress is bad and specifically, stress that is managed could be good for you. The advantages of stress management can be immense. Consider this, at times stress does help some people perform better such as sports persons, armed personnel, and CEOs. What separates these individuals is that they can manage stress and use it to their benefit. 

Enter Flow. That feeling when you’re completely engrossed in some activity that everything else just fades away. Where time becomes short and work becomes fun and involving. Flow is a state where everything just flows by itself and you become extremely productive & hyper-focused. 

Fortunately, Flow can be attained by anyone. There are just three conditions that you have to follow to initiate flow. 

  1. Set Clear Goals for the activity you’re performing. 
  2. Establish a clear and immediate feedback mechanism for the task at hand
  3. A balance between the skills required for the task and the challenge to be completed

Technically, by doing this you’re adding direction to all that excess energy your body is supplying you with.

Self-Regulation

As simple as that may seem, there are still going to be instances where you could get a bit overwhelmed and anxious when you are experiencing stress. In such times, setting up goals and a clear feedback mechanism can seem particularly daunting. Therefore, it’s crucial to self-regulate by relaxing thyself. Box Breathing & Meditation can be short and simple ways to do this. 

Try this 

Take a Deep Breath for 5 counts, hold your breath for 5 counts, Release for 5 Counts and hold for 5 counts again. This makes one box. Try to do 10-15 boxes when you’re feeling overwhelmed and you shall pretty soon find yourself back in control ready to take on the task at hand.

So, the next time you feel stress creeping up on you or trying to get the best of you, incorporate direction by setting up conditions of flow and self-regulate yourself. Stress management establishes boundaries so that you can accomplish the task on hand. Over some time, Stress-Management will start to seem like a developed superpower.