Don’t get it confused though: not all stress is bad. ‘Eustress’ is the term often used to describe the right kind of stress and this is the kind of feeling you get when standing on top of a mountain about to head down on skies, or when you’re playing a computer game, and you’re wholly focused because you only have one life left. This is the kind of mild stress that in-creases dopamine and BDNF.
The key is to keep challenging yourself, keep subjecting yourself to new experiences and to make sure you manage the stress this brings in a healthy manner. The worst thing you can do is to sit in an old-person’s home stressing about how lonely you are, or to sit in the same office, doing the same work, every single day while being under a lot of stress.
The reality is that while we can’t control our circumstances, we can control the way we react to them. When you’re lonely or bored, there are things you can do to get more meaning in your life again – even if that just means getting the internet set up or learning a new skill like a painting. And if you’re stressed at work, consider quitting – after all, your health is the most important thing.
Stress Management Techniques
You can also try any number of stress management techniques. Of these, the most successful and popular is probably meditation. It’s no coincidence that a lot of Buddhist monks seem to live inordinately long. To give meditation a shot, you could try downloading the popular mobile app ‘Head Space’ which will talk you through a few guided meditation sessions.
Otherwise, you can try transcendental or mindfulness meditation on your own. The key is to calm the mind and to stop worrying about things. The big mistake we often make is to try and ‘force’ this to happen when, in reality, this defies the point entirely! When you try and ‘force’ yourself to calm, you are actually anything but. Instead, you should simply sit somewhere quietly, close your eyes and then see what happens.
If your mind wanders, then just make a note of it and focus back on your breathing or on keeping your mind still. It takes a little practice, but only 10 minutes a few times a week can start to make a significant difference. Eventually, meditation will become a tool you can use to stay calm under any circumstances. Another option is to look into CBT or ‘Cognitive Behavioral Therapy’.
This is a psychotherapeutic technique that teaches methods that patients can use to try and clam their thoughts and overcome a stress response. Often, it involves merely looking at your situation a little differently. For instance, ‘thought challenging’ is a type of ‘cognitive restructuring’ and this teaches you to look at the things you’re afraid of and then assess whether they’re really worth fearing or if perhaps you have blown them out of proportion.
If you are someone who struggles with a lot of stress, then you might consider seeing a professional cognitive behavioural therapist who will teach you these tools that you can then use yourself to overcome stressful situations. Most important of all though is simply to remember that you need to make the best of your situation and that means putting yourself out there, experiencing new things and crucially connecting with new people.