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How to turn a stressful situation to your advantage

We live in a demanding, deadline-driven digital world, the perfect storm for stress — or is it? What if stress is not the dreaded beast that it has been made out to be? 
How to Turn Stress to Your Advantage

Did you know that stress is not a medical but a psychological condition that triggers physiological responses in the body? Very often, we say, “I have had a stressful day”, “My job is so stressful” or “My boss stresses me out”. What we are actually doing here is responding in stressful ways to situations and/or people. 

A study conducted by two Yale researchers found that if someone changed his mindset around stress to view it as a challenge instead of a threat, he enjoyed a significant reduction in stress-related physical symptoms like headaches, backaches and fatigue. While the stress was still there, its effect on the body was completely changed. What this shows is that while stress is inevitable, its effects on us are still within our control.

So, how can we take what we perceive to be stressful situations and convert them to our advantage? Here are some tips:

1. Think positive

If you are faced with a task that you find boring, like washing dishes, try looking at its positive aspects. For example, think about how you enjoy the feel of warm water, or how washing dishes allows you to disengage from the buzz of life for just a short while.

Doing this trains the mind to realise that there is not just one reality, but multiple realities at any point. It allows you to change the way a situation is viewed from a negative to a positive.

Consider these facts: Simply changing your perspective in the workplace enables you to achieve greater long-term growth, 37 percent higher sales and 31 percent more productivity.

2. Realise the meaning behind the stress and use this to your advantage

Banish mental hijackers by focusing on the positives and looking at the larger purpose of your situation. For example, if you are stressed about a job interview, re-focus on how it will advance your career. Likewise, if planning a party is stressing you out, think about how holding it deepens your relationships. Harness these positives to jumpstart your productivity and increase social bonds.

3. Enjoy and harness quiet time

Studies show that when the brain is overwhelmed, it becomes harder to see the positive side of things. Try to allow for some downtime for an hour each day by avoiding activities that create "noise" in your mind such as watching television or surfing the internet, Instead, relax by going for a walk, meditating or doing some light exercise. This gives your mind a break, allowing it to better focus on positives. In this way, whenever you encounter a stressful situation you will be well placed to find solutions and to find solutions and to deal with it in a positive manner. 

4. Set yourself up for success

Whenever you face a challenging task, remind yourself of the times you succeeded in similar situations. This once again allows your brain to focus on positives, enabling success to become a reality.

5. Focus on what you can control

When faced with worries, remember what you can affect and what you cannot. There is no point in focusing on things that are out of your control, for example, the weather. Instead, focus on an action that needs to be done that can help your situation – like being prepared for rainy weather and making the best of it.

5. Sleep well and do not skip meals

Ever realised that you feel more stressed when you have not slept or eaten? Getting the right amount of sleep and eating at the right times are important in keeping your mind positive.

6. Create a network of support

Knowing that you have somebody to talk to is crucial. Surrounding yourselves with people who think positive does wonders whenever stress is around.

In essence, remember the saying, “Stress itself is not your enemy. Stressful thinking is.” By viewing stress as an indicator that you care about something, you can harness it to focus on the tasks on hand. 

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