Six ways you can make stress work for you

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Feeling stressed doesn’t have to be a bad thing – you come out tops with the right perspective

Stress and anxiety can wear you down but studies show how we respond to it is vital and that with the right attitude you can use it to your advantage. Here are some things to think about the next time you feel stressed.

  • Remember that you control your response. “While it might not be pleasant, opportunities often arise through stress,” says Richard Sutton, a Joburg-based health and performance educator and author of The Stress Code. “It’s about shifting from chronic stress that’s debilitating to acute stress that’s episodic and liberating. The mind is powerful. Use it.”Reach out to those around you. Personal interaction facilitates the release of oxytocin, a hormone that provides a buffer against stress by lowering the heart rate, counteracting cortisol, boosting fearlessness and promoting a feeling of connectivity and positivity.
  • Prioritise your wellbeing. This helps your brain and body to use stress to enhance your focus, decision-making and performance, counselling psychologist Lauren Moss says. “A Ferrari with no petrol in the tank is useless.”
  • Sleep well, eat well, move your body. You should also prioritise spending time with people you care about and feel safe with, and manage pain and illness. “Research has shown that when we don’t have a ‘full tank’ in these areas, our tolerance for stressful events is lowered and we’re more easily overwhelmed by stress,” Moss says.
  • See challenges instead of threats. If you train your brain to perceive something stressful as a challenge instead of a threat, the fear you’d normally experience might turn into excitement, US-based wellness coach Elizabeth Scott says.
  • Make a mental shift in perception by focusing on the resources you have to meet the challenge, seeing the benefits of a situation, reminding yourself of your strengths and finding a positive to every negative, Scott says.

While we all deal with stress differently, these tips may help you to refocus and retrain your brain. This is an extract from our new YOU Wellness magazine. Get your copy to read the full article.

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