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Video by Eric Scherder about stress and what you can do about it.

Stress often has a negative connotation 

We are often warned about the possible negative consequences of stress. But stress does not mean much more than strain on the body and/or mind. And tax makes you strong, if followed by time for recovery. Just look at sports, which is in fact stressful for the body and yet very healthy. 

Mental stress is just as healthy as physical stress (read: sports); it activates your mind, gives energy and promotes your performance. Mental stress is in fact 'strength training' for your brain. But just as an hour of exercise a day is sufficient for the body, there are also limits for the brain with regard to healthy mental stress.  


An important factor appears to be how you experience stress. If you experience stress as something negative, for example as a threat, your body produces hormones that - during a longer period of stress - have a negative effect on the body. However, if you experience stress as something positive, for example as a challenge, your body produces hormones that promote recovery and growth. Your body will then use all its resources to meet the challenge. 

It is therefore a healthy thing to learn to see the bumps that come your way as a challenge and to deploy resources where the bumps are too high.


Possible resources: 

  • social contacts

  • faith 

  • meditation / mindfulness 

  • sleep 

  • knowledge

  • resilience training


Whatever stress sensations you experience, don't try to make them go away. Instead, focus on the energy, strength and motivation that stress gives you; your body gives you access to all your resources to meet challenges. 

So don't breathe deeply to calm down, but rather to feel the energy you have at your disposal. Then use that energy to achieve the goal you have at the moment. 


Three steps to positive stress

  1. Acknowledge the stress when you experience it. Just allow yourself to notice the stress, including how it affects your body.  

  2. Welcome the stress by recognizing it as a response to something you care about. Can you make a connection with the positive motivation behind the stress? What's at stake here, and why do you care?  

  3. Use the energy the stress gives you, instead of wasting it on managing the stress. What can you do right now that aligns with your goals and values? (McGonical)


Positive stress responses

Not only the well-known flight or fight response, but also seeking connection with others, coming up with creative solutions, caring for others, and becoming courageous are examples of stress responses. Also an increase in vitality, growth and resilience, experiencing more energy, strengthening motivation and concentration, increasing self-confidence and  well-being, are possible positive responses to stress.  


Stress produces hormones that help you recover. You do not have to recover from stress, stress itself ensures that you can recover. Although most people see stress as harmful, high levels of stress seem to go hand in hand with the things we want: love, health and life satisfaction. 

And yet it is certainly not unusual to long for a life without stress. Although this is a natural desire, you pay a high price for it. In fact, many of the negative effects we associate with stress may actually be the result of trying to avoid it.

Psychologists have found that trying to avoid stress leads to a significant reduction in feelings of well-being, life satisfaction and happiness. Avoiding stress can also isolate you. A lack of meaningful stress can even be bad for your health. (McGonical 2015) 

“The stress response is your greatest ally in difficult moments – a resource you can rely on rather than an enemy you must defeat.” (McGonigal) 

Sport is also a stressor, it challenges your body and mind. Stress is just as healthy as exercise: one hour a day is fine, 10 hours is a bit much.

Practical tips and links:

  • Do you have enough stress? Don't protect yourself, live life with all its emotions. 

  • Read the book 'Stronger with Stress' by Kelly McGonical or watch her TED Talk on YouTube [click here

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