We tend to think of stress as good or bad, like planning a wedding is good stress, but losing your job? Bad stress, right? The thing is, it’s all just stress and we can feel it about positive or negative events, but the difference is in how we manage it. “Stress is just our body’s natural way of responding to demanding circumstances,” explainsDr. Vaile Wright, senior director for health care innovation at the American Psychological Association.
And there’s actually a sweet spot when it comes to stress - not too much or too little - that can be good for us. Too little stress can leave us feeling less challenged, but too much stress can feel overwhelming and leave us anxious. But that Goldilocks level of stress? It can lead to peak performance by giving us a heightened sense of clarity and alertness and motivating us to perform well.
Stress can also increase our ability to cope with and adapt to life’s challenges and changes and the key is reframing stress as something that can be helpful. If you can think of stress as something temporary and something you’ve overcome before, it doesn’t feel as negative. Of course, it’s easy to get caught up in a negative spiral of stress and feel overwhelmed, but focusing on the things you can control in a situation can help keep stress in that Goldilocks zone. Stress at a constant high level isn’t helpful, but managing moderate levels of stress can help you get better at it over time.