We humans live life in between certainty and uncertainty. The relative perception of contextual certainty and uncertainty is the main reason behind our mental stress. Whole life, we strive to move from one end of uncertainty to the other elusive end certainty. This struggle to reach from one end to the other creates several such situations that put one in stressful condition and this results in several stress-related mental health issues.
We are conditioned to react defensively when in stress. It is a kind of mental conditioning that helps one protect the mind and body. It is natural and happens subconsciously. The question is why some people manage to cope with stress well while others succumb to stress. What helps one be a better stress-fighter? The majority of psychological and neuroscience studies suggest that people with a positive attitude are better stress fighter as compared to people with a negative attitude. So, how to remain positive in stressful conditions? Let us understand the stress first so that we could find ways to cope with it.
What is Stress?
Stress is simply the brain’s response to any demand, this is the official definition given by The National Institute of Mental Health. It isn’t all bad, but intensity, duration, and other factors make it bad. Technically speaking stress has two elements one is the psychological perception of pressure and the other is the response of the body, which involves memory, metabolism and of course muscles.
Based on the perception of threat triggered from memory, the amygdala – the emotion control center of the brain—sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus which results in a “fight-or-flight” response decision. Common physical changes could be high heart rate, high alertness, and an adrenaline rush. In the end, a hormone called cortisol is released which helps restore the energy lost in a stress response.
Here are some reasons why adrenaline can be a very good thing as listed in this Mental Floss article.
It is normal body functionality and it is good for the safety of the body. The problem arises when these arousals are frequent and sustain for longer than normal. This could lead to several mental and physical issues like heart disease, blood-sugar imbalance, anxiety, depression, and many more. So, stress control is all about how quick you can bring the response hormone back to the normal level. You can do this by increasing the release of feel-good hormone i.e. endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. Positivity is the key here as your positivity prepares you to maintain an optimum balance of feel-good hormone.
Ways to Remain Positive in Stressful Condition
All studies focused on stress management have a common element and that is to engage in activities that blunt the stress response as quickly as possible. The list of activities could vary depending on the persons’ preferences, but this could be as simple as “deep breathing” or as complicated as life-long medication. Since every response is linked with the perception of a particular thing or situation, the best remedy is to change the perception.
There are several day-to-day things that you can practice that helps in managing stress better and you could remain positive to face it boldly. The trick is in changing the perspective towards a panic situation. You can either let panic grip your mind and body or you can choose to see a particular situation in perspective and be positive. Here are some of the things you could do to remain positive:
Eliminate Victimhood First
It is natural to don the hat of a victim during a stressful situation as this somehow gratifies you lack the confidence to take responsibilities. But this isn’t helpful at all as you fall in the trap of repetitive response resulting in a higher intensity of stress in the next round of events. It is simply a looking away with full knowledge of the fact that you are in mid of some crisis. Once you throw that hat of victimhood, your mind will fill with positivity to face the challenge and be victorious.
Strengthen Mental Processing Through Meditation
As said, it is all about perception when it comes to the stress response. The effectiveness of your thinking process depends on the broadness in the analysis of the particular situation. You can build this strength of broader thinking thorough regular meditation. You have to learn to see the crisis from a different perspective by questioning all possible aspects of the response outcome. Be open towards accepting reality as rigidity is the biggest stress builder. Meditation helps you visualize things in neutrality, so you could build a different perspective and cope with stress with more positivity. Start practicing meditation as your socio-religious or faith permits. It is all about silencing the mind, so the medium isn’t relevant.
Stay Focused on Positives
Once you have a proper understanding of the situation, you have to see it in context and look for relatively positive ways. It is not about that one tough question in the examination hall, but five other easy questions that could help you fetch better marks. It is all about visualizing light at the end of the tunnel. Your orientation towards positive aspects could help you find better solutions as positivity triggers your mental capacity to analyze better. In crisis, people do panic, but your focus on positive aspects could help others to come out of crisis smoothly. Your positivity helps you to become more attentive and alert, making you more responsive to deal with any situation.
Your change in perspective helps you accept the reality and plan forward. Once you are mentally prepared to move forward, never forget to say thanks to everyone involved. It works like a wonder to heal wounds and build a positive atmosphere. It isn’t an easy task especially in challenging situations, but it helps. I tried my best so far, let me try harder now. This is what makes you great. Acceptance is the key to positivity.
If the crisis in broader with a large number of victims, like the financial crisis, you could come forward and show camaraderie. This sense of association relives the pain and prepares people to recover quickly from stress. It is a strange mental phenomenon when we see people in the same pain our pain subsides. Don’t sit idle be proactive in whatever way you could be. So, strong bondage and help others so that they could find ways to come out of the stress.
In stressful conditions, the first thing that is compromised most is normal sleep. It is natural to have lees sleep in stress, but find a mechanism to get enough sleep to keep your brain in good health. The proper functioning of the brain requires optimum sleep. You need mental energy to cope up with the situation. If you want to remain positive in a stressful situation you have to sleep tight.
If you don’t know what a healthy sleep is, read this article from Sleep Foundation.
Your mental functionality depends on your memory and information triggers. You have to control the information consumption by choosing the right communication channels so that you get the right kind of information. The best strategy is to stay away from the bombardments of bad news. Consume information that keeps you in a good mood, like your favorite music.
Join the League
While in the middle of some stressful situations, people tend to prefer isolation. We normally try to close our mental and physical boundaries. But this isn’t a good strategy to cope with stress. You need to be open-minded and join people who are in a similar situation. This helps you understand the situation from a different perspective and build a strategy to face the situation in a better manner.
Nature Heals Better
It has been proven through research that people recover quickly from stress-induced mental health issues when in the company of nature. Going to your nearest park or beach or lakeside and spending time there could help you calm your nerves. Nature is the best guide if you build the skill to observe it neutrally.
If you are passionate about anything then this is the best way to stay positive in a stressful situation. The mental escape helps you regain the mental balance. Spending time in hobby works like an effective mediation as you remain focused on a particular task which you enjoy doing. Studies suggest that when engaged in hobbies the release of feel-good hormones increases resulting in better control over stress.
Stay Away from Drugs and Alcohol
It is very normal to find temporary escape using depressants like alcohol or drugs. But these backfires in the long run as you build habit and your resistance level increases. The higher the intensity of stress, the higher the dose you may need. This ultimately pushes you to cyclical anxiety and several physical ailments.
You need a healthy mind to deal with stress and a healthy mind stays only in a healthy body. It is good to have a strict exercise regimen as it keeps maintain better metabolism. If you are fit you could feel confident to face any stressful situation as you are in better control of your metabolic activities. You won’t panic if your heart rate goes higher.
Life is full of uncertainties and we try our best to find a pattern of certainty to live life in a better manner. Every moment teaches us something new, particularly stressful moments that give you a new dimension. It is better to re-evaluate the meaning of your life and prepare to face it with positivity. Your positive approach will take you to new heights. Stay positive!