Stressed Out? Good!

Am I the only one that notices that people seem to get more stressed out during the holiday season than any other time of the year? It’s supposed to be the hap-happiest season of all but I see ALOT of distressed people out and about.

Today I was glancing through one of my old journals and came across some notes I made while reading Kelly McGonigal’s The Upside of Stress. What really stood out to me was this point that she made:

A meaningful life is a stressful life.

Have you ever thought about this? I know I didn’t until I read it in her book. All I tend to hear about stress is that it kills, gives you heart attacks, causes cancer, and just plain sucks. McGonigal points out that the science behind stress is showing that it’s not actually stress that causes damage, but rather our attitudes toward stress. So stress doesn’t seem to kill. It’s all about our attitude toward stress. Those who view stress as harmful and damaging are harmed and damaged by stress. On the other hand,  those who view stress as something positive that makes them stronger actually live longer, healthier lives.

That’s why the above point is so important. Think about it. Do you stress about things that don’t mean anything to you? I don’t. Or at least I try not to. Typically the things and people we care about the most tend to stress us out the most. Having things to stress about is actually evidence that we have meaningful people and things happening in our lives. When I’m stressing about something like my job or someone I love, I try to remind myself to be grateful that I have something so important to me to stress about.

Try it sometime. Maybe the next time you are stressed out, try to connect that stress to the thing or person you care so much about. Once you are able to do this, gratitude will be easy. The stress probably won’t melt away but it might just make you stronger.