So much negative words have been written about stress. It has been so demonized to the point that the mere utterance of it evokes visceral emotion in us. It reminds us of the fidgety feeling before facing a big audience or the gut-wrenching moments when we sit before a panel of judges for an interview. How about those throbbing headaches after a stressful day?
However, did you know that without stress, we would not be here today? This sounds absurd but it is true. Eons of ages ago, our great, great ancestors survived the harsh world they lived in and were saved from predators by their survival instincts and stress.
Stress is not an enemy. If it enabled our ancestors to survive the Jurassic Age, it can do the same for us today in this ultra-modern Cyber age. Let us see the surprising ways we can make stress work for us, not against us, and may even actually improve our lives:
- Stress triggers the release of adrenaline into our system. It is nature’s way to instinctively make us flee or fight to survive the danger we are facing. The adrenaline tightens our muscles, sharpens our vision and focus, and spikes our blood sugar for the strength and energy we need. Stress enables us to take action fast to bolt out of the tight spot we are in.
- Stress makes us concentrate on our inner capabilities. It makes us aware of the real mettle we are made of. Before thinking of others who could rescue us, we instinctively look within ourselves first for way out. It gives us the guts to go out of our comfort zone and be confident and self-reliant. Stress drives us to push ourselves past our limits and reach our potential.
- Stress makes us improve our lives. It makes us aware of those areas in our lives we have neglected due to our busy schedules, or maybe we never had to use until today. It can make us realize what cause us to end in the present stressful situation we put ourselves in. Perhaps, we over-estimated our strength, or have been living with some limiting beliefs, or have been aiming at unrealistic expectations. Now, stress has made us take appropriate steps to work on these overlooked “enemies” and improve our lives.
- Stress hones our emotional intelligence. It teaches us to be aware of our emotions by the effect of stress to our body. We are able to sense stress on its way before it actually comes and overwhelms us. When we are about to lose control of the situation, stress manifests itself by the tightening of our stomach muscles; tense shoulders can be signs of being overburdened so we let loose of some obligations or tasks; stiff neck signifies stubbornness or inflexibility overcoming us. Stress is our body’s reaction to our thoughts and stifled emotions. Heeding these physical manifestations prepares us how to react and dissipate stress in advance.
Stress has always been with us and most likely to be so in the future. However, we need not consider it as an adversary but just like the generations before us, we can harness it to help us survive and overcome problems as it did our ancestors. Instead of treating stress as a curse, let us welcome it as among our blessings, for truly – it is!