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Can stress be positive?

Written by Sophie Higgins, Co-Founder of Questae Collective

Can stress be positive? Well yes it can, absolutely! When utilised in the way stress is designed to be utilised, it is actually a necessary and vital response, designed to make us react to something quickly, effectively and efficiently.

To get us out of danger for example…way back when in hunter gatherer times when we had to hunt for food, the threat of danger was possibly always just around the corner, and when we needed to react and get the hell out of a potentially life threatening situation, our amazing stress response would kick in, cortisol and adrenalin would be released, our heart rate would quicken, and we would get the hell out of there (hopefully with our food in tact!).

Stress can also be useful in situations where a bit of adrenalin could help us out to perform or complete a task for example – public speaking, competitive sports event, hosting a workshop. This could be seen as that ‘nervous excitement’ feeling where the adrenalin pumping around our body gives us that extra bit of confidence and swag.

The problem nowadays is that so many of us are under consistent stress from a multitude of sources, and then add a global pandemic and countless lockdowns into the mix, and we have stress upon stress upon stress. Lovely.

This chronic, consistent stress is where things can become a little risky, with constantly high levels of cortisol, imbalanced blood sugar, poor sleep due to being alert in the evening, feeling wired but tired (yep been there!), and basically living in a constant state of high alert, or fight or flight.

So it’s important that we take a look at our stress levels – are we aware of our stress levels and how they might be impacting us? Are we experiencing those things mentioned above? How are we managing stress? Are we allowing ourselves down-time? What does our self-care toolkit look like? Are there perhaps any ways we could channel stress in a more positive, helpful way?

The thing about stress is that it can be easy to let it run away with us, to get caught up in the stress, and feel stressed about the stress (yep been there too), sometimes we don’t even know it’s happening, it’s like a vicious cycle – stress feeding stress. So one thing we could do, and which I myself find useful (especially so during lockdown times) is to try to be more aware of stress, when we feel stressed just stopping and taking a step back from it, acknowledging it, asking the question where might these feelings be coming from, and thinking about something we could do to channel the stress in a more helpful, creative way.

In these moments I love getting out in and connecting with nature, breathing fresh air – maybe going for a run or doing some yoga or a HIIT class, getting those feel-good endorphins flowing. I also love having a dance to shift that negative energy, blasting my fav songs and singing from the top of my voice (sorry neighbours!). It might be getting your sketch pad out and doing some drawing, or perhaps journaling and getting that energy out onto paper, or maybe reading an inspiring book. Just anything positive that shifts and transforms that energy.

Give it a go, it works!

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