Finding Ways to Handle Stress

3 Easy Steps to Handle Stress and Pressure In Life

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Are you ever traveling and suddenly something completely out of your control happens? You miss a flight, a car cuts you off in front of you, your passport is stolen, or you get hurt while traveling? Many of us how been in these situations.

Alia and Thomas Crum wrote a very interesting article in the Harvard Business Review that stated that stress in our lives could actually prove to be a good thing. Especially if we learn to see the stress, then own up to the stress, and finally use the stress to our advantage.

We will all experience heartbreak and stress in our lives, so learning to be able to turn our pressures and stresses around into something good is a very positive thing.

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Stress Can Be a Good Thing If You Know How to Use It

In a Harvard Business Review article, Alia Crum and Thomas Crum wrote a paper called Stress Can Be a Good Thing If You Know How to Use It. You can read their entire article by clicking here.

Many people believe that stress, any kind of stress, is bad. After all, if we have high blood pressure the doctor may tell us to take the steps necessary to eliminate stress in our lives. Several times in my life I was diagnosed with chronic stress and was told to eliminate stress at all costs.

We see stress as something we should avoid or something our doctors will tell us to avoid. But Alia and Thomas, in their article, said:

“We have a different perspective. We believe that pursuing a “stress-free” life often causes more stress down the line—problems compound, and by failing to face our most intense challenges we never overcome them. Think about a time when you experienced substantial personal or professional growth or a time when you performed at your highest level, such as finishing a race, building a business, or raising a child. What was it that motivated and fueled you to grow, learn, and improve during these times?  We are willing to bet that those times invariably involved some stress or struggle.”

Alia and thomas crum

Stress can be a motivator. Stress can be a tool to teach us things we may not learn any other way. Stress can be a way to drive us to learn and grow.

Travel in itself can be stressful. Not every person can handle or deal with the kind of stress that travel can bring on. Especially international travel, where the rules of what we think we know can suddenly change. When the order in our life can almost overnight become disordered.

Alia and Thomas Crum have given us three steps to help us deal with and use stress to our advantage.

After all, Thomas Crum is a teacher, trainer, and motivational speaker. He was worked with many top organizations. Alia Crum is an associate professor at Stanford University in Psychology. She has written or co-authored many publications you can find under Stanford’s Body & Mind lab.

Step One – See Your Stress So You Can Deal With It Properly

This may seem like an obvious step, but many people, when under stress, may try to deny it or spend countless hours dwelling on their stress. Instead, Thomas and Alia Crum recommend that you simply see the stress and then label the stress you are having.

Some examples you can label your stress are:

  • I am stressed because my flight was canceled now my entire trip is in jeopardy.
  • I am stressed because I have lost my job.
  • I am stressed because I have been diagnosed with an illness.
  • I am stressed because my wallet, passport, and backpack were stolen.

They said that once you see the stress and acknowledge it, research has shown that it moves into a more conscious part of your brain.

When they encounter stress, some people tend to either over or under-react. Someone may moan, “my life is now over,”….or “I will never get over this…” On the other extreme, another person may say, “I don’t need to worry at all about it, “….. or “what do you mean it is a problem?’

In speaking of this, Alia and Thomas Crum said

“Mindfulness and other centering practices can help you acknowledge and transform how you are responding to duress. Each person reacts differently. Do you have a racing heart?  Clenched muscles? Or are you in the minority who feel a sudden urge to fall asleep?  What are your psychological reactions?  To judge?  Blame others (or yourself)?  How about your behavioral reactions:  Do you check out of the conversation altogether?  Rush to the refrigerator? Noticing these reactions releases us from their grip and helps shift our focus to pursuing more productive responses.”

Alia and thomas Crum
Learning To Handle Stress Is Important
Learning To Handle Stress Is Important

Step Two – Own Up To The Stress You Are Under

Learning to own our stress means understanding that we will stress more about the thing that matters most to us. Having stress in our lives shows that we care about something or someone.

Face it, if you do not care, you are probably not to stress or worry about it. Those things you care the most about will cause you the most heartbreak and give you the most stress in life.

They used an excellent metaphor for climbing Mount Everest. First, no one in their right mind would attempt to climb Mount Everest without proper research, training, and conditioning. Next, climbing Mount Everest is a very difficult undertaking. Many who try to climb it either fail or even die trying.

In using their Mount Everest metaphor, Alia and Thomas Crum said:

“A metaphor we often use to describe this state is ‘It’s just a cold, dark night on the side of Everest.’  If you were climbing Everest, you could imagine that there might be some cold, dark nights on your journey up.  But what did you expect—that climbing Everest would be a walk in the park?  Do you really expect that raising a child, running a business, living a life of impact would be easy?  Owning your stress won’t necessarily make those cold, dark nights go away but they will likely be a bit more tolerable as you discover a sense of motivation and meaning.

Alia and thomas Crum

Stress is part of living life with greatness. It is part of what can help to drive us to great things like climbing Mount Everest summit of our lives.

Step Three – Use Stress To Your Advantage

Stress can be a powerful motivator. It can get us out there daily to run so we can complete a race. It can force us to look closely at our lives and decide what we need to change or improve upon. It can teach us lessons that we would never learn any other way. It can help us grow and face the demands we are now facing.

In speaking of the effect that stress can have on our body, Alia and Thomas Crum said:

“When the body encounters stress, it pumps hormones such as adrenaline and dopamine which fuel the brain and body with blood and oxygen, a response which propels the individual into a state of increased energy, heightened alertness, and narrowed focus.  Although the stress response can sometimes be detrimental, in many cases, stress hormones actually induce growth and release chemicals into the body that rebuild cells, synthesize proteins and enhance immunity, leaving the body even stronger and healthier than it was before. Researchers call this effect physiological thriving, and any athlete knows its rewards.”

Alia and Thomas Crum

Simply put, the problem is not the stress in our lives but what we do with it. It is how we react or do not react to stress. Or how we use the stress to drive us to do something better or more than we would or could have without it.

Not one of us will go through life without stress or heartbreak. It is part of living and part of the human experience. But when we use stress to draw closer to others, to become mentally tough, to master something new, to change our lives positively – stress can then become a powerful influence in our lives.

Hans Selye, the Canadian author, and scientist, masterfully said:

“It is not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.”

Hans selye

Live the Life Of Adventure

Our journey through life will not be stress-free. Things will happen. We may ride over a lot of bumpy roads filled with potholes. But as the author Barbara Hoffman so eloquently said:

“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey!”

Barbara Hoffman

Learning to channel our stress as we go over life’s potholes will ensure that our life will always be one great adventure.

At A Bus On A Dusty Road, we talk about travel, life, and ex-pat living. We are all about “Living Life As A Global Citizen.” We explore social, cultural, and economic issues and travel.

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How to Travel Alone and Make Friends?

Embarking on a journey to travel alone and make friends is difficult. You must first learn how to be alone by yourself and enjoy yourself. Break the ice as you smile at others and invite them into your life. Go up to talk to new people and get to know them. Be a good listener and get to know others. Don’t be afraid to try a new language. And finally, when you travel alone and start to make friends around the world, you quickly learn that there are many good people in this big wide world of ours.

To find out more about how to travel alone and make friends, you can read our blog called How to Travel Alone and Make Friends, What You Need To Know by clicking here.

How Can Travel Change Your Life?

I believe that everyone should try to travel overseas to a new culture at least once in their life. Travel will help you discover new life experiences and give you fresh horizons. Travel also allows you to see poverty in a whole new light. Suddenly you realize your life is not so bad after all. Travel also gives you a chance to be a cultural bridge to the world and understand that life experiences are more important than collecting material things.

To discover how travel can change your life, you can read our blog 7 Ways Travel Will Change You and Your Life by clicking here.

Anita L Hummel
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