Did you know that embracing stress and making peace with it is actually more important than trying to reduce it?

Surprising, right?

For many years, using Reiki, meditation, and different healing modalities, I was teaching people how to reduce & manage stress.

My understanding of stress shifted when I went through the coaching training with iPEC, the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, and became a certified Life-Coach. I came to understand that we can take charge of our stress reaction and choose how to respond to life in every given moment.

Using the iPEC resources, combined with tools I developed myself, led me to guide women in the process of shifting their automatic stress reaction to a higher-level, intentional response. It’s been truly incredible to see how they go through positive change and become much more satisfied with life.

You can imagine how excited I was when I heard what Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal says about stress management.

In her popular “How to make stress your friend” Ted Talk, that already received more than 13 million views, Kelly explains that when you choose to see your stress response as healthy, you create a biology of courage.

“Stress isn’t always harmful,” says Kelly McGonigal, “Once you appreciate that going through stress makes you better at it, it can be easier to face each new challenge.”

“The idea that we grow through adversity is not new. It’s present in the teachings of every major religion and many philosophies. It’s even become a cliche to say, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” But what is new is how psychology and neuroscience have begun to examine this truism. Research is beginning to reveal not only why stress helps us learn and grow, but also what makes some people more likely to experience these benefits.” ~Kelly McGonigal

Researches from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have studied this science by asking approximately 29,000 people to rate their stress levels over one year, including rating how their stress levels influenced their health. After studying public death records for 8 years, those who had passed and thought they carried a high level of stress statistically had an increased risk of death of 43 percent. However, those who were equally stressed but didn’t record its negative effects were likely to live longer.

This research is vitally important in learning how stress can actually be healthy, mentally and biologically.

What is happening when your heart beat increases and you begin to sweat? Can this be good?

Unless you are at the gym deliberately trying to increase your heart beat and you begin to sweat, this is likely a physical high-stress response. What is going on in your head when you have a physical reaction like this outside the gym? You probably think that you are stressing out, maybe even having too much anxiety. So then you try to come up with some ways to manage your stress better so you can relax.

Imagine how it you would feel if every time you had a physical reaction that normally you would view as a “bad, dangerous response”, you thank the indication and you channel this energy into taking action. When you take charge of your response to life events, you can actually use stress to perform better and to take action.

Having a physical reaction is not good or bad. It is an indication.

Judging your reaction as “bad” is often riskier than the situation itself.

The key to better manage stress is changing your perception about it.

When you start viewing stress as helpful, when you embrace it as your friend, you shift from fear and hopelessness to love, courage, and empowerment.

What does this new way of managing your stress look like?

First you pause and you recognize your stress reaction. Then you thank the stress for being an indication, you thank yourself for catching the behavior, and you challenge yourself to choose a different response.

Let me break it down for you.

Let’s say that you are about to have a difficult conversation with someone. You are stressed out. Your heart is beating and you forget what you were prepared to say.

  • Pause.
  • Say to yourself: Good job, buddy! Good job catching your reaction!
  • Say to your body: Thanks for your help!
  • Ask yourself one of the following questions (the one that feels the most empowering for you):
  • What would I say if I had no fear right now?
  • What inner strength am I ready to connect with?
  • What would I say (or do) if I was totally in my power??
  • Once you recognize your reaction to stress and thank yourself and your stress reaction, you are able to shift to a higher vibration where inspiration flows and clarity emerges.

Why is maintaining a mindfulness practice part of the deal?

Being able to observe yourself and behave in a healthy, empowered way while engaged in stressful situations is easier when you are centered and grounded. Maintaining a daily mindfulness practice helps you become more of an observer and less of a reactor.

I have been dedicated to my morning practice for many years. I start my day with giving Reiki to myself and meditating. I end my morning practice with setting an intention for the day. From time to time when I skip my morning practice for some reason, I notice that I am much more reactive. It is not that I don’t drop to my stress reaction in other times, I do! But when I start my day mindful, I bounce back quicker, even when I do react.

Practicing mindfulness daily and taking time to unplug and get quiet encourages a better response to stress.

Changing how you view stress and becoming aware that it can help you grow mentally does not happen overnight. Starting with these self-awareness tips and practicing them daily will get you well on your way to a lifetime of healthy stress management.

Here’s the bottom line:

  • Making stress your friend is more important than trying to eliminate it
  • Having a physical reaction is not good or bad. It is an indication.
  • Judging your reaction as “bad” is often riskier than the situation itself.
  • Once you recognize your reaction to stress and thank yourself and your stress reaction, you are able to shift to a higher vibration where inspiration flows and clarity emerges.
  • Practicing mindfulness daily and taking time to unplug and get quiet encourages a better response to stress.

Are interested to learn how to identify your stress-reaction and to change it so you respond, rather than react?
Check out my online sisterhood – The Inner Circle

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