Our mind is very powerful. When we go through a stressful situation, we immediately begin to show physical signs of stress, such as sweating, a faster heartbeat and increased breathing. However big or small a situation, when we perceive it as negative and out-of-control, not only do we cope in ineffective ways, but we may also be lead to major health problems if our behavior is continuous. Stanford health psychologist, Kelly McGonigal says “if we can change the way we think about stress, it can even become our friend”. She believes that if we actually embrace the concept of stress, it can make us stronger, smarter and happier, and that if we begin to view the stress response as positive and helpful, thinking about what’s going right instead of what’s going wrong, we may become less anxious, and in turn, more confident. We will also be encouraged to cope in more effective ways, whether it’s tackling the source of stress, finding meaning in it, or seeking help.
One particular study went as far as to show that those who viewed the effects of stress as positive, helpful and as an opportunity to learn and grow, didn’t present any physical signs, such as blood vessel tension. Compared to the effects of viewing stress as a negative thing, embracing its presence proved to be a much healthier way to live, confirming the old adage ‘the body achieves what the mind believes’.
So, next time something weighs you down and your heart begins to pound from the stress of the weight, try to perceive it as a force or energy that will help you meet the challenge, rather than focus on the actual “load” that weighs you down. If you learn to carry the “load” just right, moving forward with a big smile, with your head up, and with your back straight, the load may actually feel a bit lighter. And then, well, you may just rise to the occasion.