Five tips on how you can use stress to your advantage

Closeup of sad young Asian woman at cafe leaning head on clasped hands and staring into vacancy. Tired freelancer feeling burnout. Stress and bad news concept

Article by Tanya Woolf, Head of Psychological Services at Onebright

We often feel tension building in our mind and body coupled with the tell-tale signs of being anxious, burnt out or stressed.

There is a lot of advice widely available on how to cope with stress and anxiety or how to spot it, however, we have explored how stress can be used to your advantage and the benefits of giving stress a new purpose. 

Top tips on how you can use stress to your advantage and the life lessons it will teach you for the future:

Tip 1 – Thinking about stress differently

Stress is not always negative, it can fuel personal growth and lead to new achievements, but how do we do this? By thinking about stress differently. You don’t have any control over facing stressful situations – but you do have control over how you think about stress and the way it will affect you. If people think that stress can help rather than hinder, this will help you to face stressful situations and use it to your advantage. You can do this by reminding yourself that your body is going into stress mode to help you deal with the challenges you are facing.

Tip 2 – Don’t allow stress to overwhelm you 

There are several simple exercises which can help everyone to regain focus and overcome anxieties linked to stress, such as, taking slow breaths and making our outbreaths longer than our inbreaths, stepping away from a situation to clear your head and coming back with a clearer mind or even focussing on something completely different for a little while before coming back and re-evaluating a stressful task. Whatever you choose to do will help you to cope in any stressful situation whilst further helping you to train your mind and body use stress to your advantage.

Tip 3 – Stress can help us become more organised

People will always come up against situations where they feel stressed, it is unfortunately something we cannot avoid. However, by learning from previous stressful situations we can become more organised. Those who are aware of a stressful project that might be coming up for instance can start to get organised and work on laying out the necessary tasks which need to be completed early, which in turn will help them to become more organised as a result. 

Tip 4 – Stress can teach people to focus on self-care

From organising your diary to practising meditation or breath techniques, stress can help everyone to be mindful of your own self-care. Many clinicians will recommend a healthy diet, consuming less alcohol and increasing exercise to help combat stress. This in turn will ensure that people take better care of themselves, both mentally and physically. 

Tip 5 – It will help you understand fear

Remember that the presence of fear is a way to help us overcome a challenge or threat. You’re feeling stressed because you want to succeed in the challenge. That’s a good thing! Stress can help you to focus on a positive outcome, and then consider what types of obstacles might be in your way and how to tackle them.

It is important to be mindful of your feelings and ensure that you focus on managing anything that can trigger you to feel stressed in your personal life or at work. When we start to view stress as a positive driving force in our lives, we will start to learn a lot more about our coping mechanisms and how it can help you to overcome many obstacles in your life.

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