Stress can be paralyzing. When you think of an upcoming challenge, your mind gets bombarded with negativity and self-doubt. Do you have the skills you need to complete the assignment your teacher gave you? Are you good enough to have a successful career? Are you a good parent for your kids? How can you turn these negative thoughts into the fuel that will drive you to accomplish everything you desire?
Use Stress as a Fuel
Stress can bring out the worst in you -- or the best, depending how you look at it. For example, you can stress over an impending deadline because you're afraid of what might happen if you miss it. Conversely, you can focus on finishing the project on time so that you don't have to face the negative results of a delay. In other words, your stress could prove to be a source of much-needed motivation that will keep you on top of your game.
Play Out the Worst-Case Scenario and Troubleshoot
When you're stressed, your brain starts to nitpick every detail that could go wrong. You can try to ignore these thoughts, or you can use them to your advantage. Think about setbacks that could happen, and come up with realistic solutions to them. You may be surprised to find that your original plan was flawed all along.
While you're at it, take a look at the consequences of a possible failure. For a quick moment, assume that everything goes wrong. What would that mean to you? Putting things into perspective can help you alleviate stress and regain control of your thoughts.
Acknowledge What Stress Is and Why You Feel It
Thinking about the most stressful moments of your life will reveal a pattern. Stress does not appear out of the blue; it is a warning, a signal that your mind uses to let you know that something important is about to happen. This could mean one of two things: either that you are in imminent danger or that you truly care about the outcome of the situation that causes your stress. Understanding the nature of your stress will help you manage it more effectively.
Deal With the Whiner in Your Head
No matter how confident you are, stress can wreck your self-esteem. It makes you question your abilities and second-guess your every step. The negative voices in your head cloud your judgment, and they often cause you to make the wrong decisions. Before you give in to insecurity and self-pity, take a moment to evaluate your thoughts. Is there any truth in what your brain is telling you? You often will find that your negativity does not reflect your skills and capabilities.
Channel Your Stress into Creativity
Whenever you feel that stress is taking over you, look for healthy ways to relieve your anxiety. Exercise is a great way to loosen up, but creative hobbies are also very helpful. Listen to music. Draw. Read a book. Do whatever makes you happy. When you shift your focus from a state of negativity to a pleasant and relaxing activity, your anxiety levels drop.
Stress can ruin an important moment or it can help you achieve success. Accept that it's a part of your human nature, but don't let anxiety run your life. Instead, use stress to your benefit and turn it into the creative fuel that will drive you towards happiness.