Life is funny. Things can be going great and be so nice and easy, and then BAM! – you get hit with a ton of things all at once. I don’t know about you, but this seems to be happening more and more often in my life! (exhaaaaale) Just when I think I’ve caught a break and can finally relax for a bit, something else goes awry and my battle with stress management goes on.
But being the optimist that I am, I’ve decided to stay strong and not crumble under pressure. Instead I want to highlight the reasons why stress has actually improved my life! Yes, sometimes stress is a good thing. It may not seem like it at the time, but we can learn a lot from the stressful events in our life if we can take a step back and try to see the bigger picture.
Usually we can’t see the bigger picture until later on after the intensity has gone down. Or until someone else helps us out when we need it most. When we’re young, it’s so easy to think we’re invincible and that stress isn’t a big deal. As we age and we gain more responsibilities, reality starts to punch us harder and we can’t ignore stress anymore; we have to face it head on. Although I don’t like being stressed out, here are 10 reasons why stress has actually improved my life.
1) Light bulb! There’s more than 1 type of stress – We’ve all heard that being stressed can cause a lot of health problems. And for the longest time I assumed that mental stress was the sole source. But I’ve learned that there’s more than just one type of stress.
There’s psychological stress, which we all think of first, but there’s also nutritional, environmental, and physical stress too. And did you know that nutritional stress tends to account for roughly half?! We can’t always avoid the curveballs of mental stress, but the other 3 types are a lot easier to control and eliminate. I neglected nutritional stress for a long time, and now that I’m paying a lot more attention to what I eat, I feel noticeably better.
2) Mind over back pain – Our brains can play some mean tricks on us. And I learned the hard way that mental stress and back pain go hand in hand. I had debilitating back, neck, and shoulder pain until I read Dr. Sarno’s book, Healing Back Pain. It changed my life for the better and now I’m pain free!
3) Tested my priorities – I’m a career driven woman; I admit it. I never really thought of myself like that until I got shot down for a promotion I wanted and almost let stress destroy my most important relationships. My best friend fortunately slapped some sense into me and helped me realize how much I needed to regain a healthier work/life balance. I’m a changed woman!
4) Forced me to get super organized – I’ve always been a natural at organization. I don’t really know why; perhaps it’s part of my perfectionist nature. Stress really taught me the benefits of being organized because 98% of the time I know exactly where something is when I need to fetch it. That saves a lot of time and keeps me motivated not to get lax with organizing files, contracts, emails, documents, etc. I’m the type of person who can’t have a cluttered desktop!
5) Scared me to get good grades – I had a lot of self-inflicted pressure when I was in school. I didn’t have great social skills, so I relied on academics and extra curriculars to get through school. I was constantly stressed about getting a B or below on my report card, not being able to get into a good college, and then not being able to find a job, so I studied like a fiend. My fear pushed me to get high scores, got me in my top 2 college choices, and gave me career opportunities I always hoped for.
6) Taught me how to budget – I grew up in a lower middle class family. We managed to live comfortably thanks to financial help from my grandmothers and loans, but I knew we weren’t rich. My parents constantly fought about money; and the older I got, the more I started to feel financial stress as well. I decided I didn’t want to live that way for the rest of my life. So I started learning about personal finance and how to live within my means, save, and become financially independent. It’s incredible not to feel buried in debt, and I’m thankful that my diligence to save has paid off.
7) Helped me realize that every family has faults – I laugh that I used to think there was such a thing as a perfect family. I went to school with a guy who had what appeared to be the most perfect family, and I was so jealous of that. His parents were both super involved with the school, all three kids were honor students in the orchestra, and they always showed up at events together as a unit. It made me feel like my family was so broken. Later on after I got to know my classmate better, I learned that perfect happy family image of theirs that I had in my head was just a mirage. Things looks smooth on the surface, but there were rocky seas at home.
I’ve had my fair share of family stress, and thankfully I’ve learned to let go of the desire for a perfect family. People are complicated, and everyone has faults. And I can’t assign blame to certain individuals in my family either. Since I’ve learned to let go, I don’t dread family issues as much, and instead I just do as much as I can to help out and not let the weight drag me down.
8) We are capable of so much more – If it wasn’t for stress, I don’t think I’d be where I am today. Stress has had a toll on my body for sure, but it’s also pushed me to overcome so many obstacles I never would have otherwise. I try to remind myself of the most stressful times in my life as a motivation that each challenge we face is only temporary, and there’s always light on the other side.
Untemplaters, what’s your current stress level on a scale of 10? What are some ways that stress has improved your life?
Financial Samurai says
Without stress, life would be too easy. But too much stress gave me TMJ and lower back pain. Gotta find balance.
Glad you are taking a positive approach to stress!
Balance is key and sometimes really tough to find! But yes it does help to take a positive spin on stress and look at the ways we get better from it! 🙂
Stress has made me work harder than ever before at my side hustle so I don’t have to be stressed doing my day job any more! I can’t stand it!
That’s good to hear. Stress can be a great motivator to change your situation and work towards more freedom.
#6 definitely resonated with me. My parents struggled with money issues a lot, and I always knew I didn’t want to end up in their position. I also pressured myself to get good grades in school – my parents didn’t go to college, and I wanted to do better for myself. There is good stress and bad stress, but luckily I have been feeling less stressed lately.
It’s so hard to see our parents struggle with money. Mine still do to this day. Thank goodness I used stress to get myself into good financial shape. I don’t know what I’d do if I was also in financial trouble. I’m glad your stress level has been low lately!
I can relate to a lot of points you make here, Sydney. From job stress to family stress to physical back issues. You really do have to learn to roll with the punches, don’t you?
We’ve got my sister and BIL and sometimes their older kids staying with us right now because they are between houses. I love them dearly, but man, sometimes I just want my space back. I know it’s only short term, so I’m just rising above it and letting the stress it causes me go. Did I mention that they have two dogs, too? LOL
Yeah, we sure can get hit from a lot of different angles all at once! Phew! Oh I can relate to being in tight quarters and wanting your own space back. It’s not easy having a lot of people under one roof!! Hang in there!
Eliza from Happy Simple Living says
Okay, now you’ve got me thinking about stress in a better way. One I will add to your list is that stress (a really busy schedule) forces me to get up early and set aside time for writing. If I didn’t do this, I probably wouldn’t have written any books. Thanks for a thought-provoking post!
Thanks Eliza! Getting up early is great. I’m finally starting to do that more. I get a lot more tired at night, so it makes it easier to get up early and get some personal stuff out of the way before heading to work. I haven’t mastered writing in the mornings during the weekdays yet, but I could see myself getting there eventually if I keep it up.