How to deal with stress and use it to your benefit

I think it is pretty safe to assume that anyone who goes to school, has a job or is above the age of 15 experiences some sort of stress. Wether it is the fear of exams, or fear that you don't have enough time to finish a deadline. Stress is pretty much present everywhere. For me personally, after my last semester at school, when we were writing the bachelor project and I was really busy with work and photography I really got a full blow of what stress can do to a person. From my own experience I started drinking more and eating without really thinking about it, I also had a harder time falling asleep. Normally it would take me maybe 1 hour to fall asleep- I had so many things on my mind that I couldn't calm my brain. And the result of being stressed for a few months? I gained a lot of weight, I was nervous constantly and I lost motivation to do anything!

Needles to say it was pretty exhausting- so I decided this year will not be like that. I have to learn to deal with stress in a way, that will not destroy me! So I started researching some articles and speeches about how to deal with stress AND how to use it to your own benefit. I guess you are thinking how the hell can stress be beneficial? Well, when I came across a Ted Talk by Kelly McGonigal, who is a health psychologist I finally found the answer. She did a study of 30.000 people for 8 years and was inquiring about how much stress they experience and if they think it is harmful. What she found was that people who experience more stress have a 43% higher chance of dying that those who don't BUT it only counts for those who also believe that stress is harmful for their health!

Kelly found out that people who "die from stress" actually die from the belief that stress is bad from them- and from statistics she concluded that stress would be the 15th largest cause of death in the United states. So she started thinking of ways to view stress as a beneficial thing. She wanted to know if it is possible to change the way people view stress and make them healthier. So how do you deal with stress and use it to your own benefit?

1) View stress as a sigh your body is getting energised

When you are experiencing stress your heart starts beating faster, you feel anxious and you might break a bit of sweat. The way to help yourself going through this is to think: "if your heart is pounding faster, it means it is preparing for action. If you are breathing faster, it is ok- you are getting more oxygen to your brain". People who tried this before going into a stress study actually proved to be more confident and less anxious and their response to physical stress actually changed!

2) Surround yourself with close relationships

We all know oxytocin right? The hormone that makes you happy, makes you want to be with close friends. Pretty much the hormone that gives you a hygge feeling! Well, this is actually a stress hormone, so when you are stressed your body pumps this hormone out and pretty much wants you to be surrounded and seek support. So the second thing that will help you get through stress is to be with your friends where you can support each other. I mean this makes sense doesn't it? When you are freaking out about exams, you usually freak out with someone who is going through the same thing and you support each other and it makes you feel better.

The last conclusion Kelly presented was that people who surround themselves with close friends, those who are active in their communities and have rich social lives show NO signs of stress being harmful for them. So my advice to you and for myself is- try to see stress as a positive thing, and when you are feeling really stressed seek out a friend or someone who you can share the burden with and you will feel much better!

You can watch the Ted Talk HERE.