Everyone of us suffers different levels of stress in our lives. Studies show that 75% of Americans have experienced moderate to high levels of stress in the past month, and stress is the No. 1 concern among high school students.
In Australia, 91% of people feel stressed about something in their lives, and 86% of workers in China experience stress. Since everyone experiences stress, have you ever wondered why some people seem to thrive in it, instead of struggle?
Did you know that it’s possible for stress to be an empowering experience, instead of a debilitating one? If you can change your mindset, your daily stress can actually become a tool to help you move toward your goals.
Let’s take a closer look at the stress mindset.
- What is a Stress Mindset?
- Test Your Stress Mindset
- How to Change Your Stress Mindset
- Pay Attention to Your Body
- Look for Ways to Grow from Stress
- Give Yourself a Break
What is a Stress Mindset?
The term “stress mindset” was introduced in 2013, when researchers at the Yale Department of Psychology published the seminal paper “The Role of Mindsets in Determining Stress Response.”
In this study, researchers explore the “stress mindset,” in which some people experience stress as enhancing, while others experience it as debilitating.
Stress is a natural reaction to various types of adversity, in which the body gathers resources to manage the threat at hand; it’s essential for survival, and a normal part of life.
But too often the empowering aspects of stress are ignored, and stress is always treated as a negative thing. This can also lead to a harmful cycle of “stressing about stress,” in which stress itself generates more stress.
However, researchers have proven that it isn’t stress itself that is harmful – it’s our stress mindset that makes it harmful. Here are the two stress mindsets:
Stress can be Debilitating
People with this mindset believe that stress is harmful to their mental and physical health, and it causes conflict.
Stress can be Enhancing
People with this mindset believe that stress can improve performance and productivity and promote learning and growth.
Furthermore, this study also proved that the stress mindset can be changed, and people can adopt healthier attitudes towards stress.
Test Your Stress Mindset
To determine people’s stress mindset, researchers developed a list of questions, which can be found in the appendix of “The Role of Mindsets in Determining Stress Response.”
You can use them to check out your own stress mindset. To complete this test, rate yourself on a scale from 1 to 5 for the questions below. An answer of 1 means that you strongly agree with the statement, while 5 means that you strongly disagree.
- The effects of stress are negative and should be avoided.
- Experiencing stress facilitates my learning and growth.
- Experiencing stress depletes my health and vitality.
- Experiencing stress enhances my performance and productivity
- Experiencing stress inhibits my learning and growth.
- Experiencing stress improves my health and vitality.
- Experiencing stress debilitates my performance and productivity.
- The effects of stress are positive and should be utilized.
If you agree with statements 2, 4, 6, and 8, you have a stress-enhancing mindset. If you agree with 1, 3, 5, and 7, they say you have a stress-debilitating mindset.
How to Change Your Stress Mindset
We previously did a review of the Ultra Manifestation program designed for anybody who wants more out of life and is not happy with their current situation. If you want to change your mindset, and put your stress to work for you, here’s how:
Stress is not only a normal part of life, it’s a crucial survival skill. If we were not able to react appropriately to stress, we wouldn’t have the necessary strength or energy to overcome challenges.
Instead of thinking of stress as a negative thing to always be avoided, think of it as a natural part of life, and simply one more way that your body is equipped to survive in a sometimes threatening world.
Learn the Benefits of Stress
Studies show that simply learning more about the benefits of stress can help people change their stress mindset. Here are some of the advantages of stress:
While long-term, chronic stress can make a person more susceptible to illness, manageable stress levels actually promote resistance to disease. Good stress improves your immune function and resiliency.
Improves Focus and Memory
One of the features of stress is that it sharpens your attention, bringing challenges into sharp focus and helping you bring all your resources to the task at hand.
Moderate stress levels actually strengthen neural connections in the brain, improving your mental performance over time.
Stress actually has profound effects on the body, where it can have a more powerful pain-suppressing effect than morphine. It’s good to know that, when you need it, your body can harness these powers to help you face your challenges.
Gives You Energy
Stress can be energizing and stimulating, working on the mind and body a lot like exercise does. It can make you feel pumped up rather than depleted.
Improves Over Time
As with so many other things in life, the more experience you have managing stress, the more you develop confidence, and manage stress better the next time.
Changing your stress mindset creates a positive cycle where you have better and better stress response every time.
Pay Attention to Your Body
Sometimes your body can be a better indicator of your stress levels than your emotions. Paying attention to your body is a great way to determine whether you are experiencing healthy stress or harmful stress. Here are some stress indicators which people usually go through, can you relate to any of these?
- Increased heart rate
- Increased sweat, particularly on the palms of the hands
- Faster breathing
- The stomach may feel tighter or “fluttery”
- Pay equal attention to these signs of negative stress:
- Tension or clenching in the jaw
- Tension or pain in the neck and shoulders
- Stomach pains
Look for Ways to Grow from Stress
It’s almost always true that your stress is actually communicating something important, so look for the lessons it has to teach.
Stress may be telling you that you need to find better ways to manage conflict or anger, that you need more practice as a public speaker or teacher, that you need a new strategy to manage a difficult boss or coworker, or you need to improve your time management skills to manage deadlines better.
These are all skills that can be learned and have the potential to improve your quality of life and make you more effective. Rather than avoiding stress, try to understand it and improve because of it. Working on your stress is to find the best ways on how to manage your stress and you will see how this can shift your energy in life and you begin to feel more empowered.
Give Yourself a Break
Even when you have a stress-enhancing mindset, breaks are critical. Even prize fighters and race cars take breaks. Breaks help your mind and body reset and improve your ability to manage the next round of stress.
Structure your time to allow yourself time to rest and recover.
A break may mean taking a long walk in nature, resetting your thoughts; taking a few minutes with an app that will coach you through some mindful and relaxing breathing; or simply making sure you get plenty of healthy sleep at night.
The secret to managing stress is that it’s all in the mind, and therefore it’s within your control. Science has proven that if you believe stress is enhancing, you are more likely to choose the behaviors that actually help you rise to the situation and overcome it.
You can take active steps to improve your stress mindset and turn your daily stresses into a tool for empowerment, and a steppingstone on your way to greater health, happiness, and success.