Embrace your stress and learn from it

So you’ve attended all the sessions on stress management, you breathe deeply, visualize relaxing scenes, take little walks when you feel stressed and think positive thoughts when that “jerk” cuts you off in traffic…While these techniques are effective for momentarily helping deal with that stressful event, it usually isn’t too long before the stressful feelings begin to overwhelm us again.

While stress management approaches have their place and we should all try to find ways to relax, the truth of stress is that managing your stress is like trying to manage the weather. In fact, managing stress is even harder than managing the weather because with today’s “pinpoint Doppler radar” we know precisely when and where the bad weather will be showing up. Not so for stress. Stress will come at you when you least expect it, in surprising ways that you didn’t expect and for most of us our reactions to it tend to exacerbate the situation creating even more stress.

Nature is always presenting us life in a cyclical manner, the river ebbs and flows, the weather is fair and foul, the sun rises and sets. Good things happen and bad things happen. Stressful events which we usually associate with negatives also cycle in our lives and while we always highlight those events, we rarely stop to appreciate how things are when they are going well.

So what would happen if instead railing at whoever or whatever happens when a stressful event occurs, you began to take a different approach to stress, one in which you recognize that these kinds of “things” are a normal part of life and that having an eye for learning from your stress may just help you get over the stress than any effort you may make to manage it.