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The ability to harness stress can mean the difference between a long and healthy life and a shorter life, riddled with health problems. When people think of stress, they often think of money problems, issues with their jobs or disagreements with their spouse. There are other types of stress, however. Many of the most stressful points of our lives are also happy or enjoyable times.
Positive stress can be a powerful motivator to make change in our lives and accomplish things that we never thought possible. Positive stress includes major life changes such as marriage and pregnancy, career related stress such as a promotion and even taking a vacation with your family. The problem is, often the body cannot recognize the difference between positive stress and negative stress.
When the body cannot differentiate between positive and negative stress, it often reacts the same way to both. You may have trouble sleeping or eating, your blood pressure may increase and you may find yourself short tempered. All of these are typical stress responses.
Handling stress, whether positive or negative, is important for long term health. The first step toward handling positive stress is to acknowledge that it exists. No matter how happy you are about the stressor, accept that it will cause some change in your life, and that is stressful. Once you have admitted to yourself that the positive stress needs addressed, you are ready to begin.
Exercise is an effective way to handle stress. Some positive stressors, such as moving to a new town or receiving a promotion, may leave you with little free time. Carving out the time for exercise, even a twenty minute daily walk, can greatly improve your ability to manage stress.
Eating healthy foods is another way to rein in positive stress. Too often a quick meal that can be eaten standing at the kitchen counter or in the car replaces sit down meals at the first sign of stress. Make a conscious effort to sit down and eat at least one meal each day off of proper dishes and with real silverware.
Talk out your issues. Sometimes, talking about a positive stressor, such as a job promotion, can seem an awful lot like bragging. While it usually isn’t too hard to find someone willing to listen to you complain about your spouse or commiserate if you lose your job, it can be a little trickier finding a sympathetic ear for your good news. A spouse or parent are two good choices for sharing this stress with, but a close friend should be capable of providing support as well.
It is important to realize that positive stress has the same negative impact on the body as negative stress. Untreated, you can still suffer from depression, headaches, lethargy and a compromised immune system. Your body typically does not do a very good job of differentiating between good and bad stress. No matter how lucky or fortunate you feel by your good news, it is important to be aware that the side effects of stress can sneak up on you.