Make Stress Your Friend

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Image courtesy of and David Castillo Dominici.

Image courtesy of and David Castillo Dominici.

Working on a project yesterday, I started feeling a bit stressed out. I stepped away from the computer and took a little walk. Within a few minutes I felt better and came up with a solution to my problem.

It’s a far cry from when my only stress-busting technique was a walk to the nearest vending machine. And even then, it was just a quick, short fix. Soon after munching on Doritos, not only would my stress return, but also guilt over eating crap. Which prompted a walk to the soda machine. Ugh!

Yep, I was a stress eater. Once I left the rat race behind, I thought that would end all my stress.  Nope! If it wasn’t a job, then I’d find something new to stress over, like finances or my health.

We can never get rid of stress. But how we approach it makes a big difference our health and peace of mind. Recently I came across an interesting TED Talk by Kelly McGonigal. Apparently all the physical signs of stress are pretty normal. McGonigal posits that stress is in fact a good thing. It’s when our fear takes over that is the problem.

If we embrace stress as a potential for personal growth, it will make us stronger, smarter and happier.

I don’t know if I’ve successfully turned stress into my friend, as McGonigal suggests, but I handle it better these days. I no longer look to food for comfort. With a lot of practice, movement and activity became my de-stressors. Walking, knitting or cleaning is what I turn to now. I’m able to clear my head and think logically about my problem.

You can never get rid of stress, but I think McGonigal is right. Fear just overwhelms us into paralysis or making dumb food decisions. But learning from stress, taking advantage of it, makes us more resilient.


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