Stress takes a toll on all of us – but it doesn’t have to. Learning to identify the differences between good and bad stress in your life can make a world of difference in how you feel at the end of each day.
First, the difference between good and bad stress is fairly simple: think invigorating challenges versus fearful situations. Whether it is stress on your mind and body because you are working out and replacing fat with muscle on your body or it is a new challenge in the workplace – good stress leaves you feeling accomplished when you overcome what was stressing you out. That is because good stress leaves room for you to grow your mind, body or overall wellbeing.
The bad stress is usually indicated by a feeling that you’re taking on something that is impossible. Like you are in a situation you can’t get out of. It’s when you feel stuck.
The good news here is that if you can recognize when you are experiencing bad stress, you can work to pinpoint what is causing your bad stress and then make changes to gradually improve your stress levels by changing your viewpoint or changing your atmosphere. Remember that you always have the power to change your situation. It’s your life and under your control.
Now that we know the difference, here are a few reminders as to why stress is so damaging in the first place – and all of them circle around one, main point: bad stress makes you sick. Bad stress makes it difficult to control your emotions, promotes disease, weakens your immune system, can cause weight gain and many more problems (a full list of which can be found here).
Now that we’ve addressed why bad stress is damaging, here are a few ways that you can help overcome the stress in your life:
It takes 21 days to create a habit and 90 days to create a lifestyle. When you embark on de-stressing, don’t throw your hands in the air after a week. Remember that change happens with time, that you gradually build new habits and that making lifestyle choices are decisions you have to make every day until they stick. It’s not always going to be easy to wake up and go to the gym, but if you keep at it – you will eventually fall into the habit.
This is something we’ve all heard, right? But it is important. If you are being asked to do something where your wellbeing takes a back seat – your friends will understand. You don’t have to go to every, single happy hour – and you don’t have to drink at all of them either. It’s okay to say no – and it’s also okay to indulge every once in awhile. You know your body and your stress levels – trust that.
Sleep is so, so, so important to reducing your stress. Lack of sleep causes a myriad of problems: weight gain, increased appetite, irritability, increased anxiety, fatigue… just to name a few. It also gets in the way of your productivity because it is difficult to focus when you are tired. Prioritize sleeping the number of hours you need a night to feel properly rested. You will perform better at work, in the gym and even in your relationships and friendships if you’re rested.
If you’re trying to get all of your reports for work completed in one day – of course you’re going to feel stressed out. Prioritize the things you need to get done in one day, and don’t let yourself stress about the rest of the list until it is time for those activities to come into play. It is easier to look at projects and challenges one step at a time. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day – right?
Probably the most important part of de-stressing is to be kind and generous with yourself. Forgive yourself for making mistakes. Allow yourself to indulge every once in awhile without feeling guilty. Give yourself time to lay in bed and watch television on the weekends or evenings. Most importantly, stop feeling guilty for things that make you feel good. If you love Saturday movie night with popcorn – enjoy Saturday movie night with popcorn. If you love taking your dog to the park in the afternoons – take your dog to the park in the afternoons. You don’t have to throw away your entire day or afternoon, but don’t skip the activities entirely to get work done that you think needs to get done. Prioritize the activities that make you feel good so that you can ensure there is always balance in your life. Moderation is key to everything and it is especially key to resolving the stress issue.