We gotta admit that as girls who likely, just like you, feel a bit overwhelmed by stress at times, we would love nothing more than to give it a firm kick in the butt so that it gets launched into the air, spirals into the atmosphere and crashes into the ocean miles away from us, never to be seen again. …aaaaah 🙂 If only! So as you can imagine, we’ve been intrigued by the words “Why You Should Love Stress” and welcome a chance to see it in a whole new, less stressful light.
If the thought intrigues you as well, read this below from Linda Formichelli. the author of the new book How to Do It All: The Revolutionary Plan to Create a Full, Meaningful Life — While Only Occasionally Wanting to Poke Your Eyes Out With a Sharpie.
By Linda Formichelli
My life is full to bursting. Last year, for example, I hosted three exchange students, traveled to five countries with my husband and 6-year-old, wrote a full-length book (plus 40 blog posts and a few magazine articles), ran two businesses, remodeled much of our house, entertained large groups weekly, and read 32 books.
Women often ask me how I get it all done without stressing out. So here’s my big secret:
Stress is a frequent companion of mine, and I’ve come to learn that that’s okay.
What’s wrong with stress?
According to the women’s media, stress makes us miserable, causes us to pound down gallons of cookies-and-cream ice cream, and can cause everything from heart attacks to cancer.
Every women’s magazine, talk show, and blog offers up tips on how to simplify our lives, avoid taking on too many projects, and turn down challenging opportunities in favor of soaking in lavender-infused baths.
The common refrain is that stress is something to be avoided at all costs — but just because everyone says it doesn’t mean it’s true. In fact, steering clear of stress at all costs can keep us small, and prevent us from living fulfilling, memorable lives.
Instead of blindly believing the party line, let’s talk about some of the surprising reasons stress is good for you:
- Stress can boost your performance.
It’s true that oppressive, chronic stress — like if you’re caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s or living in a refugee camp — can make you ill. But there’s also a form of stress called acute stress, and the media tend to lump these two types together, causing us to fear both.
Acute stress — the kind you feel when, say, prepping for a certification exam, giving a presentation, interviewing for the job of your dreams, or standing at the starting line of a triathlon — ramps up in response to those events, and it can actually help you perform better. Then, it ramps back down during and after the anxiety-provoking event.
So when you ace a job interview, slay the audience with your stand-up comedy, or put on a burst of speed as you blast across a finish line, you can thank acute stress for your success.
- Stress can make you healthier.
A study published in the Psychological Bulletin concluded that acute, fight-or-flight-type stress actually boosts the immune system. It’s when the stress becomes chronic, the research said, that the immune system is harmed. What this means: A temporary bump in stress caused by planning a trip, writing a novel, or starting a side business won’t kill you — and will, in fact, make you stronger.
- Stress is a sign of a full life.
The only way to feel zero stress is to never try, do, learn, experience, see, or create anything in your life.
If you’re traveling, entertaining friends in your home, performing on stage, taking a class, developing a new hobby, or doing anything else memorable and worthwhile, you will experience stress. Living a full life requires making an effort, taking risks, and accepting challenges. It’s only natural that as you do these things, your stress levels will increase at times — sometimes by a lot. That means you’re being challenged, in a good way.
But stress feels terrible!
I can’t deny that even if acute stress can help us perform better, be healthier, and live fuller lives, it often feels like…well, crap. On the upswing, acute stress boosts our energy and focus, but then we often experience a crash that leaves us wanting to sleep for three days straight.
The secret is to accept that acute stress can be a positive part of a fulfilling life, and then take steps to levels out the highs and lows to keep our energy and positivity flowing steadily.
Some things to try:
- Meditate your The standard advice to sit and watch the breath is difficult for many of us. Try a free guided meditation podcast like those on TheMeditationPodcast.com or the Pzizz app.
- Soak it out. Take a hot bath as soon as you feel that telltale tension in your shoulders, instead of waiting until you’re in full-tilt freak-out mode.
- Write it down. Every night before bed, journal about your worries, to-dos, and fears to get them out of your brain so you can score a good night’s rest.
- Head off illness. Down an immune-booster vitamin powder drink and go to bed early the day you sense the first signs of a cold.
- Act early. Get a massage, even if you don’t need one to destress…yet.
- Flip through a chapter of an inspirational book every morning.
Any other stress-busting tip you find in magazines or online can help, as long as you use it to level out the peaks and valleys in your anxiety levels, and not as an attempt to put the kibosh on stress altogether.
Bring on the stress — and live your best life.
Linda Formichelli is the author of the new book How to Do It All: The Revolutionary Plan to Create a Full, Meaningful Life — While Only Occasionally Wanting to Poke Your Eyes Out With a Sharpie. Go to the book website to learn more, buy your copy, and score an invite to the secret Facebook Group.