You have probably heard reports on television or read reports in print or online that tells you that stress is very bad for you. Regardless of what you think of the media, they are right, but also, they are wrong. Everyone has stress in their lives. Sometimes the stress of deadlines at work, money problems at home or problems with others in your personal life can put added pressure on you. But stress can also help motivate us to do a great job in a task, when we don’t think we can do it.
For example, when I was younger, I was very shy. In fact, an audience of one person could sometimes be difficult for me to deal with. If I had to talk to someone other than my family or a very close friend, I would stutter, start sweating and have a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. I would literally work myself up so badly I would make myself sick. So, it came as a bombshell when my elementary school teacher picked me to narrate a story in front of an auditorium full of parents. Needless to say, I was shocked and despite my begging and pleading not to narrate the story, my teacher assured me everything would be alright and would help me prepare.
So, with some suggestions from my teacher (thank you Mrs. Hannon), I started off small by talking in front of a small group of kids. Then speaking in front of a group of family and friends. Finally, before the big night I practiced in front of the rest of the school at a rehearsal. The suggestions that Mrs. Hannon gave me to ease my nerves and stress level were very helpful and got me through that night and has helped me throughout the years to battle my stress.
So, what is stress? The short answer is a state of mental or emotional strain that is a result of an adverse or difficult situation. Stress certainly played a factor in my big narrating debut, but handling stress properly is the key in not being harmed by it.
Stress can have an adverse effect on your health. Stress has been linked to a number of health-related issues that can either worsen your health condition or can cause an onset of a health condition. Health problems related to prolonged stress include heart disease, asthma, depression, anxiety, and more. If untreated, stress can lead to a lifetime of health problems.
But can stress be good? In my time as an athlete, I have had to face many stressful situations. Last minute of the game and I am shooting two free throws to try and win a tied basketball game. Needing to reach a certain running time so I can qualify for a regional event. And many other times in the past where the stress of the situation can be used as a motivator. If properly managed, stress and stressful situations can provide people with a boost to perform at a high level. In my days as an athlete, I found that stress can get the heart racing and give you a boost of adrenaline for the activity.
So, the key is keeping a balance of your stress level. We know that stress can be harmful, but also good. That means you need to find the balance between the two. For me breathing exercises have been very helpful. Every time I faced a stressful situation, I took five deep breaths, and exhaled slowly. That was a Mrs. Hannon tip that I found to be very helpful.
There are a number of helpful websites that might be able to help you learn more about stress and how it can work for you. Here are a few that I found useful: verywellmind.com, Stress and Your Health and CDC Stress Report.