The world keeps spinning faster and faster. To-do lists seem to become never-ending, work piles up and you have programmed your planner down to the minute. You get to the point where even your stress is giving you stress. Your friend comes up to you and unloads the millions of things she must get done and get done quickly. You feel the need to validate her and reciprocate with your laundry list. While venting to friends can be an effective way to cope with the stress of everyday life, we need to take moments to evaluate if this form of venting is beneficial or if we are truly just glorifying “being busy.”
Stress is an inevitable part of life. Positive stress can work as the catalyst for motivation and innovation. You did not read that wrong. “Positive stress” may sound like an oxymoron but is, indeed, a real concept. A stressor in your life can allow for the opportunity of growth, change and positive outcomes.
Why talk about stress? While still ambiguous, there is a connection of stress to mental health. The body’s neurological response to stress was not designed to be an ongoing function that is never turned off. Living a life in a chronic state of stress diminishes our ability to have strong wellness and has been linked to obesity, heart disease, the development of anxiety disorders and depression. The body’s response to stress is a biological aid if viewed and utilized in the proper way. Viewing stress in a different way can boost confidence and promote healthy responses to stressful situations.
In many of our conversations about our days, how often do we refer to the causes of our stress in a positive light? Beyond biology, the ability to identify our stressors in a positive way can allow us to pair effective coping mechanisms that help us manage stress in a healthy way. Effective coping will look different for every person.
What about when your anxiety is more than stress? While it is normal to feel anxious before a big life event, studying for a test or starting a new job, an anxiety disorder is much more than just feeling anxious or distressed. Anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships.1
Over one third of the world’s population will have a personal encounter with an anxiety disorder over the course of their life. There are several types of anxiety disorders, which can reveal themselves under different circumstances or after traumatic events. But all of it is diagnosable, controllable and ultimately treatable. The key is recognizing if your anxiety rises to the level of a clinical condition, and if it does, what to do about it.2
If you feel as though your anxiety is in a place that interferes with your day-to-day life, schedule an appointment with your doctor or your university’s counseling center.