If you type the word ‘stress’ into Google, you’ll find millions of articles on managing stress, overcoming stress, handling stress, and fighting through stress to become the best version of yourself. It seems like every mental health guru, mentor, and business person thinks the same thing: stress is a bad thing.
But here’s an unconventional idea: What if it’s not?
What if you’re supposed to actually embrace your stress because it helps you grow, because it teaches you your strength, and because it helps you handle situations (personal and professional) that you wouldn’t be able to overcome otherwise?
Here’s my thought—learning to embrace your stress is key to true success. Here’s how:
1. Recognize what you’ve previously overcome and use that as a benchmark.
Every single person on this earth has gotten through something painful. Whether it’s a breakup, a job loss, a parents’ divorce, a failed grade, a missed opportunity, etc. these things affect us in different ways. While it’s not a competition of what ‘hurts more,’ as an individual it’s important to recognize what you’ve gone through and how it’s shaped who you are today.
Look back over the difficult moments you’ve faced and use them to remind you of your strength. When you embrace your stress, you’re fully recognizing that you’ve been through other painful things and you’ve come through on the other side—and you will with this event, too.
2. Stop comparing your journey to other people’s.
I can’t say this enough. Stop comparing yourself to other people. Every single person’s journey is different, so you can’t compare the things you’ve felt with others because it’s just not the same. Instead channel that energy into yourself and your current struggles.
3. Understand the value of working INTO something, rather than simply getting through it.
When you fully embrace your stress, you see difficult moments as things you can work into rather than through. Oftentimes we want to rush our healing so that it doesn’t hurt as much or for as long. We want to quickly get over the emotions so we can move on—but that’s not always how it works (or the best practice).
Instead of rushing, think of working into that stress. Take your time with it. Feel it. Let the pain break you. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. And slowly, over time, you’ll begin to heal. (And you’ll be stronger because you let yourself experience this hard moment rather than rush to feel better again.)
4. See this moment as an opportunity rather than a hindrance.
Your stress doesn’t have to break or control you. Rather than thinking of it as a bad thing, focus on how it can be an opportunity—for growth, for re-centering, or for change.
Changing your perspective will help it to feel more manageable, too.
5 Remember that you’re not alone.
Above everything else, remember that you’re not the only person who feels stressed or overwhelmed. That doesn’t make it easier (and doesn’t mean that someone has it ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than you per se), but it does create a sense of comfort in the fact that we’re all fighting through difficult times together.
And no matter what you’re facing, you can learn to embrace your stress and move on.
Featured Image Credit: Andrea Vehige