Stress – not exactly something that anyone desires to be feeling. However, when stress does enter your life, there is a way of approaching it that brings about the best possible outcome. Try to flip the narrative to turn your bad stress into good stress.
So, what is good stress?
Think of good stress as the nervous-excited feeling that you get before performing on stage, presenting a new idea at work, or going on a first date. Whereas bad stress is the nervous-anxious feeling that causes irritability, overthinking and uncomfortable physical symptoms such as a headache or stomachache.
No matter what the stressful situation is, your mindset matters. “Your mindset determines how stress affects your body and your brain,” shares Jackie Van Zile, MA, LPCC, LCDC-III, a licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC) with ProMedica Physicians Behavioral Health – Sylvania. “If you’re expecting something to be bad, the odds that it will be bad are pretty high. Whereas if you’re expecting something to go well, it’s much more likely to go well.”
The way you perceive stress is directly related to how it impacts you. Try to maintain a positive mindset when experiencing stress – it is better to tell yourself that the stressful event will go well rather than convince yourself that it will go poorly.
“Your mindset can change the narrative. If you have a job interview coming up and approach it with a hopeful, confident mindset, you’re more likely to get the job. If you approach it with a fearful, anxious or self-defeated mindset, then you’re less likely to get the job because it shows,” Van Zile shares.
What does bad stress look like?
Bad stress may manifest itself differently for everyone. Common signs that you have turned the corner to nervous-anxious (bad) stress can include mood swings, headaches, stomachaches, sleeplessness, increased worry, and decreased ability to focus.
The best way to combat bad stress is to pay attention to your stressors and do something to address the thing that is stressing you out. Try to flip your mindset to be more positive about the stressor, take some time to do something that you love, or talk it out with a family member or friend.
“Do your best to stay in the nervous-excitement phase (good stress) rather than letting yourself get to the nervous-anxious phase (bad stress),” Van Zile shares.
Stress is normal and everyone experiences it. Stress can just be stress, it doesn’t have to be a bad or negative experience if you’re able to grab ahold of it and turn it into something positive or constructive.
Jacquelyn Van Zile, MA, LPCC, LCDC-III, is a licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC) with ProMedica Physicians Behavioral Health – Sylvania and has worked in the mental health field for the past 8 years. She uses strength-based, cognitive behavioral, motivational interviewing, solution-focused and mindfulness/grounding techniques to help empower individuals to reach their goals and achieve a sense of balance and wellness in their lives.