April is Stress Awareness Month. So what the heck is stress? According to the American Institute of Stress, stress is defined as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” Stress, though we all seem to know what it is, tends to be indefinable. Most people understand and agree that there are good kinds of stress. Those might be the rush of being on stage when one loves it, the stress one adds to their body when they train for an athletic event, or the last push in a race. Those same stressors that are “good” for one person, however, might be “bad” for another. We’ve all been in employment scenarios where some people think the boss is amazing, while other’s just can’t stand them and are “stressed out” by their management style.
While stress can be everywhere, and can be “good” or “bad,” the way we deal with that stress is going to make the difference in our lives. For example, when the teen is forced to engage in gym class, if they embrace the challenge, that attitude transforms the “stress” dramatically. When an employee sees the boss as a lesson in interpersonal dynamics instead of a necessary evil to be endured, they can transform their work experience. Likewise, if that employee can see the situation as a cue to improve in order to find a more fitting position or place of employment, they can use the “bad” situation as “good” motivation to move forward in their life.
Of course, it isn’t only attitude and outlook that can help manage stress. If you think about good shock absorbers on a car, it isn’t necessarily the car that makes the bumps in the road less jarring. It is one facet of the car that makes quite a bit of difference. There are so many facets of good mental health that there are many options where improvements made can help modify stress. Good nutrition, exercise, meditation, time in nature, and embracing a healthy social circle can all be tools that can help us manage stress. Embrace life, embrace the myriad of tools for good mental health, and your “stress” can become motivation, excitement, and challenges.