Can stress be a privilege?

By Jessie Asya Kazner and Michelle Boulé

stress is part of the human experience, but lately, it’s starting to feel like a permanent characteristic that we simply can’t shake. What’s worse, half of people say their stress is only getting worse, which can lead to both mental and physical health challenges. Life and business coaches Jessie Asya Kazner and Michelle Boulé offer these new takes on how we can manage our stress:

Start seeing stress as a privilege: We’ve been conditioned to think that you reach a certain point and then everything is smooth sailing, which couldn’t be further from the truth. A successful person (in life and business) gets better at dealing with the challenges that are a part of growth. Start asking “how can I get better at this?” rather than “when will this go away?”

Eliminate unnecessary stressors: Ask yourself if you have relationships (life or business) that are holding you back or keeping you from the growth you want? Can you do something to improve those relationships, like improving communication or revisiting an agreement? Also, is there something you’re not doing that could eliminate extra stressors? This could be exercising or eating a healthy diet, or asking people for help at work or hiring additional people.

Stop caring about what others think: When a person doesn’t voice their own needs or desires because they’re afraid of rejection, they may find themselves stuck in a situation months or years down the road. Yes, people may be disappointed with our choices because we can’t please everyone (and yes, this can stress us out), but remember we all have the power to choose how we respond to the way others react to our choices.

Set boundaries with… your calendar: Using a calendar will help you keep your word to yourself to do the things you want to do. Think about how low-stress it is to have relationships with people who keep their word. Imagine what keeping your word to yourself would do for your own self-confidence, trust, and stress if you started doing that for yourself.

Accept what is and go from there: There’s a reason the news continues to use the word ‘unprecedented’.  We must integrate what has happened, the permanent changes to our world, before we can move forward. Make time to eliminate external stimuli and go inward, whether it’s putting an end to doom-scrolling or making space in your jammed calendar.

Social butterfly or solitary cocoon: Ask yourself which end of the spectrum you fall on and see if you can move closer to the middle. If you’ve become more of a home-body than you’d like to be, challenge yourself to go out and socialize regularly, but take baby steps until you’ve built up your comfort level. Or if you realize you’ve been running from this post-COVID reality and packing your schedule, start scheduling unscheduled time to be with your thoughts—to meditate or journal or to think and breathe.

We are not robots: It seems silly to have to state the obvious but we NEED periods of rest to integrate everything we learn and experience. 

It takes practice: For many, it’s not as simple as just sitting down and willing yourself to stillness. When starting, try short meditations, reading, or taking a walk—allow yourself time to reflect, away from the to-do list. 

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