The ongoing pandemic, election month, and looming holiday season may cause stress levels to be at an all-time high. In fact, three-quarters of Americans say their mental and physical health is being impacted. But what if there was a way to use that stress to improve your well-being? Stanford researchers have come up with a three-step approach on how to use stress to achieve your goals.
Finding the perfect gift, preparing the meals, all the election noise—all this adds up to one thing! But did you know stress can be good for you? And changing your mindset can actually make you a healthier person?
“Stress can help us try to locate our goals and motivate us on some level for our goals,” said Larissa Humiston, LCSW, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Acknowledging your stress allows you to put a label on what you’re worried about. Our brains shift from a fearful, nervous place, to a place where we can be intentional and decisive. “When we have awareness, then we have the power to try to do something different with it,” said Humiston.
Accept that you’re stressed and realize that you only worry about things you care for. This will reveal the value behind it and shed it in a positive light. “We can shift it, and so to me that just, in it of itself, makes it positive, because then we will access resources,” said Humiston.
Now, you can use your stress to achieve goals. “Talking to somebody, reaching out to a friend, taking more time for ourselves,” said Humiston.
Acknowledging stress also helps us defeat ironic mental processing, which is when we try to avoid thinking about a topic but our brain is trying to remind us to not think of it, but in reality, we are. It can be mentally draining, and so that is why we need to come to terms with it earlier on.