Yup! That is what I am asking of you. Learn to tolerate stress better; grow from the adversity, develop skills and balance your life. You need to do both, tolerate it and manage it to reduce stress and benefit from what it has to offer.
To be honest, if there was not a wee bit of stress in your life, you probably would get nothing done.
Video Snack Time!
Before I go on and on a bore you to death, it is probably a good idea to take a quick media shift break and watch a great video that explains how stress actually effects your body. It is short and pretty cute 🙂
The point is to find the optimal balance of good and bad stress by learning to reduce, tolerate and manage it. The difference between a “good” stressor and a “bad” stressor is that you bounce back from the “good” one stronger than you were before. There is this pretty cool scientific observation in Biology, and really funky word to describe it, that explains the growth of tolerance process:
I know! When I first heard that word, this is what popped into my head…
Pretty darn cute huh?!?! I call him Hormesis 😉
Now for a PsychNerd Intermission…
Hormesis is growth through responding to a low or intermittent dose of a stressor that could be dangerous or deadly at a higher level, but at lower levels can yield a positive effect. Short bursts of stress can be good for the body and the mind. Like when you exercise, you are pushing your body beyond its resting activity level for a short period of time (you are stressing it), combined with rest and recovery, this stress is good. If you do this often enough, you gain muscle mass and/or cardiovascular capacity.
Developing a tolerance for stress is the same process.
With stress, you want to put your body and mind under the type of stress that you will face in your life, but then remove the stress and allow your body and mind to recover. Balance of work and play. Too much studying, without time to relax, makes studying counter-productive, frustrating and ineffective.
Try not to run from stress, “lean into it“. What I mean by that is use skills and strategies to manage and not avoid it. If you avoid it, you never really learn how to cope with it. Also, it can help to learn what your brain is actually doing when you are stressed….and then you can help it to be better with stress.
Brain Function! Yuck!
I know you are thinking, UGH! I have no interest in my brain function…that is BORING! Well trust me here, Dr. Seigel has an amazing way of explaining how our brain works when we are overwhelmed.
*Learning: If you can understand it you can tame it.
Building Stress Tolerance: Tips to Start Today
- Practice in Place: if you struggle with test anxiety, do practice tests in a similar test setting. Study in an environment that you need to write a test in or will be doing a class presentation.This helps your five senses become familiar with the environment and lower the chance that your emotions will “warn” you that you are under threat, all because the environment is unfamiliar.
- Mindset: looking at new situations as a challenge; a learning opportunity, not as impossible or that you are not capable. The “Power of Yet“…”I have not learned how to do this yet”.
- Wellness Balance: Practice maintaining wellness and a balanced life
- Learn to Manage your Stress: Apply Stress Management Strategies to your life.
- How does Your Brain Work? Understand how your brain works. Watch Dr. Seigel’s video above. If you can “name it you can tame it”. Knowledge is power!
- Perspective Shift: Find opportunity in the challenge. Stress makes us single-minded, so negatives loom large and positives fly under the radar. Stress is designed to focus our attention or energy so we can overcome the threat. Find the silver lining, take on a different direction, try something new and shift your thinking to the opportunity not the failure.
Since you are probably procrastinating anyway!…
…use your avoidant time wisely and watch this amazing TEDTalk.
The most important advice I can give you is take the time to learn how to manage the brain you were given. We are all different and need different strategies. Lean in, try, don’t run from adversity…learn from it.
I always say, “adversity can change you for the better…if you let it“.
Learn how to let it change you by trying some of the suggestions in today’s blog 🙂
Keep ’em coming! I love love love your comments!
Dr. Heather Drummond, C.Psych.
Psychologist * Passionate Advocate for Flourishing * Human Muddling Through