How, Specifically, to Use Stress to Make You Better
| “When life is more meaningful, you’re going to experience more stress. Acknowledge it.”
Following up on last week's episode on how stress can be helpful, this episode teaches you how to make use of stress. Each time you experience stress, you can understand that your body is giving you extra energy and focus in order to help you perform better, and use this three-step process to channel that energy correctly.
- Guiding questions to better understand your relationship with stress
- Visualization exercise to help you prepare for stressful situations
- A tool you can use to strengthen your mindset during stressful times
- How to identify the stakes that cause stress in your life
And so much more.
Too many people are overwhelmed, stressed out, and frustrated about college admissions prep. I created this podcast to help you build a standout college profile and boost your confidence. Enjoy!
– Steve Gardner, FounderListen to my podcast
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Welcome back to season two of the Ivy League Prep Academy Podcast. Equipping you to successfully pursue the college of your dreams. We believe everyone deserves to reach their full potential, and the admissions process shouldn't hold you back.
In my last podcast cast, I encourage you to change your mindset around stress. Change it to match the actual research and realize that stress is so healthy that stress can be so good for you. That there are multiple physiological responses to stress besides fight or flight, and that you can choose to shift your mindset around what stress means for you, so that you can make the most of the stress that you're experiencing.
Today, I want to give you a tool that you can use when you're experiencing stress so that you can strengthen that mindset. So before we begin, I want you to think about your personal relationship with stress, okay? So how does thinking about stress make you feel? Does it make you feel anxious or motivated? Does it exhaust you or inspire you? Does it paralyze you? How do you react to other people's stress when others complain, do you begin to feel stressed too? Do you tell them to calm down or to stop stressing? Do you just avoid stressed out people? Do you take it on as an invitation to share your own stress as if it was a competition? The reason why I ask is because the beliefs that we have about stress play a big role in the way that stress impacts us, our performance, and our health. If you haven't listened to it yet, I want you to listen to the previous episode about how stress can make you better.
That is an important context. It's an important background for you to make the most of the tool that I'm going to give you. In today's episode, the tool that I want to give you is a tool that can give you the courage to grow, all right? Even when it is stressful to grow.
So because you've answered the questions about how you feel about stress, your relationship with stress, and how it makes you feel, I want you to actually think of the most recent time that you felt stressed out. Maybe you felt anxious. Maybe you felt overwhelmed.
Maybe you felt excited. Maybe you felt inspired. Maybe it motivated you.
Maybe it paralyzed you. But think about the most recent time that you experienced stress. Now, whatever created that stress, whether it was a surprise, some kind of uncertainty, maybe your teacher gave you an assignment that you weren't expecting or you had forgotten about something, and suddenly it came up at work, you were surprised with extra burdens or something like that.
Whatever it was that created that stress for you, I want you to think ahead to the next time that you're going to experience the exact same thing, okay? The fact that you were stressed out this last time when that thing happened, imagine the next time that same thing happens in the same way and you begin to experience the feeling of stress. Pause this recording if you need to, until you can get yourself into that mindset. Because this tool is going to be far more powerful if you make it real.
All right, now that you are feeling the stress or you are imagining yourself experiencing that stress, you're experiencing the emotions after the uncertainty or after whatever happened to cause you to feel stress. Step one. Acknowledge that you feel stress.
Admit it to yourself. It's normal to feel stressed. Everyone who lives experiences stress.
And as we learned from the last episode, people who care more and have deeper values and fight for their values get stressed more often. If life is more meaningful, then you're going to experience more stress. So acknowledge that you feel stress.
Acknowledge it. No problem, right? You feel it. Acknowledge it.
Two, identify the stakes. So because you're feeling stressed and you know what you know about stress, you realize that a personal value of yours is being threatened or challenged and that is causing you to care enough to feel stressed. So what is it? What personal value is being threatened or challenged that is causing you to care enough to feel stressed? Is it your commitment to be excellent? Is it your commitment to not let someone down? Is it your sense of justice? Your sense of fairness? Why does this matter to you? What about this stimulus has triggered something that you care about? All right, so step two, identify the stakes.
What is the value that is being threatened or challenged here? And step three, ask yourself now what you can do to re channel the extra energy your stress is giving you. Towards an Actionable Solution all right, remember, as you learned from the last podcast, there are many different stress responses, but all of them include cortisol. Most of them include adrenaline.
Cortisol and adrenaline both heighten your awareness, increase your focus, and give you extra energy. They give you a boost of energy. Use that energy.
So step three is to ask yourself how you can use that energy the best. How can you reachannel that extra energy towards an actionable response, towards a solution. Now go and take action.
I followed these three steps throughout most of my life, and I feel like it's played a big role in the successes that I've had. But I do need to acknowledge that I was not the one who was able to organize these three steps in such a clear and concise and usable way. This three step process actually comes from Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonagle, the author of The Upside of Stress, a book that I've just recently read and a book that I highly recommend to you.