Bellevue Personal Training | Harness the Power of Your STRESS!

We all know that using relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, is the key to lowering stress, right? But what if that isn’t the best idea? A Harvard business school study recently proved that calming down wasn’t really the best idea. In fact, those who were taught to channel their stress into excitement felt more confident and prepared!

Studies comparing the responses of first-time sky-divers to the more experienced showed their physiological responses didn’t differ! Stress responses rose no matter the situation, making it indistinguishable from the autonomic nervous system to decide whether the person was in ‘fight or flight’ or ‘excite and delight’!

How you interpret incoming stress can be the difference between feeling panicky and excited. While many interpret stress as debilitating, athletes actually use that stress and anxiety to fuel their performance. Here are three great ideas to help you channel that stress:

1) Harness that energy! Think about your frustration, anxiety, sweaty palms; your mind is racing ~ this is all part of an adrenaline response ~ and channel it into the energy that helps move mountains. When you feel your heart pounding or breathe getting fast, ‘rethink it’ and move it towards a positive goal.

2) Reflect on how stress can cause positive growth: Think about a time in your life when stress actually impacted positive changes. Did you become more courageous or compassionate as a result? Psychologists know that it is through adversity that we grow and change. Can you recall any past difficulties that strengthened you and imparted a greater awareness of your capabilities?

3) Think about it being part of something bigger than YOU: Studies have shown that any time you are in a prosocial situation, or even thinking about a prosocial situation, (taking joy in helping others, commitment to giving to others in your community) helps alleviate stress. For example, in a moment of stress think of others who might be struggling or connect to the joy of helping others, to help alleviate that stress.

A beautiful example is two people sitting in a hospital, both very worried, for their own reasons. One person reaches out to hold the others’ hand. Both will feel better, but the person who offered the compassion gets more benefit, as neurologically speaking, giving support reduces stress much more than receiving it.

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