Feeling stress is often our bodies ways of telling us we need to take action. It’s an uncomfortable gap between where we are, and where we need to be. 

It’s also important to note that we “feel stressed”, and that using that language is important. If you let yourself “be stressed”, internalizing the emotion, it’s harder to overcome. Make stress a temporary situation.

How Action Solves Stress

The best way to tackle your stress is to address it head on. What is it that is causing you stress, and what can you do about it?

Stress can come from all sorts of places, and that action you take can vary. There are some cases where you need to physically do something, in other cases, it might be that you need to emotionally address an issue.

Here are some examples:

I need to get this project completed. – As we procrastinate doing professional work, the gap widens between our expectations and our performance. This solution is simple, do the work. Momentum of success will follow as you make progress.

I don’t feel healthy. – Sometimes what we need to address is not a simple one-time action, but instead a recurring habit. Diet and exercise are a great example of an action that requires repeated effort. But it’s easy to start, lace up those shoes and go for a run.

I have too much to do. – A big stressor in our society today is the feeling of being overwhelmed with daily tasks. Some people find it a badge of honor to say “I’m busy”, but in reality it is a lack of prioritization. Taking the action of organizing your calendar based on your values and priorities, you’ll quickly find the time to get the important things done.

I’m nervous about a political situation. – For many of life’s stresses, it may also be that you are concerning yourself with something outside of your control. If you can’t take action on a situation, the best thing to do is stop worrying about it. In the case of politics, yes, you can vote. Yes, you can talk to local representatives. But no, you can’t control what most of congress, the president, or the court system does. Take the action of realizing what’s in your control, and what you personally can take productive action on.

I don’t have enough money. – One of the largest sources of worry in the United States is finances, so this example is particularly important. Just like diet and exercise, personal finance is about developing a system and habits. But taking initial action is easy, do a budget. Taking the action of learning and assigning a job for each dollar will quickly provide you more control over your finances.

Using Stress as a Tool

Once you learn how to turn stress into action, stress can become a tool. Similar to a check engine light on a car. When the stress indicator turns on, you’ll know to examine a situation and look for an appropriate action.

With a developed practice of learning how to productively work through stress, you’ll quickly become more productive and aware of your life.

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