Last month I was invited to speak to staff at Borden Ladner Gervais about the importance of mindset, and how our mindset shapes and influences how we understand our experiences, and how our unique understanding influences our emotional and behavioural responses. This presentation focused on how we can influence our response to stress by changing our mindset. The new science underlying this research reveals that stress can actually make you smarter, stronger, and more successful. Really. It can even inspire courage and compassion. In fact, changing your mindset about stress can make you healthier and happier because it affects everything from your cardiovascular health to your ability to find meaning in your life. When we shift our mindset about stress, we can transform how we experience it, physically and emotionally. All of this can help us change the way we cope with and manage challenges in our life.
If we change our mindset about stress we can shift from thinking about stress as a threat to it being a challenge. When we choose to see stress as a challenge, our stress response helps us rise to face our challenges by focusing our attention, heightening our senses, increasing our motivation, and mobilizing our energy. Yes, we may feel a little anxious, but we also feel excited, energized, enthusiastic and confident. When we choose to view stress as a challenge, we are more likely to accept the fact that the stressful event has occurred, and is real, and will plan a strategy to deal with the source of the stress. We might seek information or advice, and to the degree that we are able, we are more likely to take steps to overcome, remove, or change the source of stress. To the extent that we are unable to change the situation, we can view it in a more positive way, by thinking of it as an opportunity to grow. Conversely, when we view stress as harmful or threatening, we are more likely to engage in behaviours that do not benefit us or others. We might distract ourselves or turn to alcohol or other substances or addictions to numb the feelings, or withdraw our energy or ourselves from whatever relationship or situation we believe is causing the stress.
I would like to thank Borden Ladner Gervais for offering me the opportunity to share this information about the new science of stress, and hope that considering, and perhaps embracing a mindset shift will help change your life.