It’s no secret that most people view stress as a mental response that has negative effects on the body and mind. In fact, there are numerous studies that will convince you to relieve and remove stress from your life. What doesn’t get as much focus are the positive effects stress can have in your life—at least, the right kind. Believe it or not, if you change the way you look at stress, you can actually improve your health.

How do you view stress?

 A pair of glasses show a computer screen filled with blurred out text and code.

The ultimate goal is to change the way you look at stress, so that you don’t continue to avoid situations that seem stressful. When you avoid situations that are challenging, or make you feel inadequate, you miss out on opportunities to develop yourself. Instead of skipping a chance to learn something or grow, start seeing stress as necessary and healthy. Stress, pressure, productivity, and success often go hand in hand. But they won’t necessarily equate to achievement if you don’t know how they all connect.  

When a deadline is quickly approaching, or you’re being pressured to complete an important task, it’s quite tense. When that tension creeps up, you’re conditioned to think, “Oh, no, I can’t be stressed out, it’s bad for me.” But that isn’t the truth. In fact, switch that thought from a negative to a positive, and your reaction to worry will start to change. Instead, think “I’m getting stressed, but I can overcome it and put myself to the test.” When we embrace a challenge, instead of avoiding it, we confirm that we’re far more capable than we give ourselves credit for. 

By looking at stress as a positive (an indicator of growth, learning, and reaching hidden potential), you’ll begin to see its benefits. But, if you view stress as negative, you will have a negative relationship with it. If you’re not careful, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Stress motivates.

Imagine you have a meeting with clients that will determine whether the clients continue doing business with you or move on to another provider. Your clients want a deeper explanation of the services you offer and how those services will be beneficial. They also want to know what you can offer them that others can’t. It’s safe to say you’re pretty stressed about this meeting. 

You now have a choice. You can let the worry convince you that your efforts are pointless, under-prepare for the meeting, and risk losing your clients. Or, you can let the stress motivate you to properly prepare and increase your chances of retaining them. In keeping the clients, you get to maintain and strengthen an already existing relationship. By losing the clients, you have to search for new clients and go through the work of establishing a new relationship. In the end, keeping your current clients will save you a lot of resources, so being stressed about maintaining that relationship is important. It means that you recognize the value of the relationship and want to take care of it.

Stress is a signal of importance.

When you find yourself in a situation that’s becoming stressful, acknowledge it. Determine why the scenario is stressful. Then, instead of trying to find out how to eliminate that stress, figure out why the scenario is necessary for you. Instead of seeing your stress as harmful, see it as an indicator that what you’re stressing about is important to you. When you realize an event is significant to you, give the event your best effort!

Stress can improve relationships.

A group of people putting their hands into a team huddle hand pile.

Have you ever noticed that, when working with a team, moments of strain often  strengthen your connections? Even though things get tense and people lose their cool occasionally, everybody is working to reach the same goal. When the goal is met, apologies are made, and the team bond is more powerful. Hardship improves relationships with family and friends, too, just in a different way. 

Discussing your stress with loved ones is beneficial to your relationships in several ways. When you discuss what’s stressing you out, you’re letting them into a part of your life that they might not see regularly. This shows that you trust them, which builds their confidence and trust in you. In sharing your worries with loved ones, you avoid taking it out on them and help them understand why you’re acting so tense. It also shows that you’re looking for insight or advice about how to handle the stress. And who doesn’t want to be a confidant for their family member or friend? It feels nice to be needed.

You need stress.

As you begin to reframe the way you look at stress, remember that you need it. It doesn’t always have a negative effect on your life. Stress motivates, signifies moments that are important to your life, and even strengthens relationships between teammates, family members, and friends. So, next time stress comes into your life, welcome it and face the challenge.

When your stress becomes too much and it starts to take a negative toll on your life, read this blog about positive self-soothing practices for negative triggers.