If you like the sweaty-palm, heart-pounding feeling when you’re in a stressful situation, raise your hand. No takers?

We all know that chronic stress is detrimental to mental and physical health. When a person is stressed, their blood vessels constrict and if it is prolonged, this cardiovascular state could lead to major health problems. Yup, stress is bad for us. But is it really? We may be thinking about it all wrong.

Stress gets an awful lot of bad press, and not without good reason. But, according to Stanford health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, you could change your body’s response to stress by changing your mind about it. In fact, a Whitehall study in the UK showed that stress increases cardiovascular disease only if you believe that stress is harmful. These findings are liberating! In other words, if we can reframe the way we look at stress, we can harness it to our advantage.

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who believe they can make things happen and those who believe things happen to them. University of Florida psychologist Tim Judge and his colleagues have shown overwhelmingly that people who feel they control the events in their lives (more than the events control them) do better in nearly every aspect of life. So, could stress be used to increase our health and wellbeing? Absolutely!

How could you make stress work for you? First of all, don’t see stress as the enemy. Reframe anxiety as energy. If you’re feeling stressed about something, chances are there’s a good chance of something going wrong. Accept the challenge and be proactive. Roll up your sleeves and draw up a battle plan; take steps to manage what you can. This way you don’t have to wait for something to go wrong in order to fix it.

Remind yourself that you’re not alone. When stress feels isolating, it becomes toxic. So, reach out to others. Handling stressful situations with the help of others gives you the opportunity to strengthen relationships and friendships.

Also, lend a hand. Next time you feel overwhelmed by stress try this simple trick: do something unexpected for someone else. By turning your attention away from yourself and onto something bigger you can reduce anxiety and increase hope and courage.

So, next time when your palms feel sweaty and your heart is pounding, remind yourself that your body is working with you, not against you. View the response your body is giving you as an aid to rise to the challenge.

Stress is a reality. It is inevitable. There’s so much happening right now that we can’t control, but there are also unprecedented opportunities amid the fear. Looking at stress in a different way could offer tremendous opportunities to break through personal barriers and encourage growth. Allow your anxiety to fuel passion instead of fear.

All it takes is a shift in perspective. Why not change stress into good, instead of evil?

Source: success.com, weightwatchers.com, thepitcher.org, realsimple.com, medium.com, hbr.org, washingtonpost.com, nytimes.com, bustle.com

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.