What do you think of when you read or hear the word stress?

Our current outlook that we have towards stress is a negative one and today, like any other day I feel that this is something that we should attempt to unpack a little bit more.

If we were to take a look into our societies current perception of stress it would be understandable if we came away feeling as though it were a negative thing- something which should be avoided at all costs.

So, what is stress?

The definition that many of us have become so familiar with sounds something like this, a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. The thing worth noting about this definition is that it is highly subjective. Meaning that each of us will each experience and perceive stress in different ways.

For some that may be an overbearing boss, meeting a tight deadline at work, trying to make enough money to pay the rent, forgetting their iPhone cord at home, forgetting your headphones, waiting in a long line at the grocery store, or even the thought of having to get out of bed early in the morning.

For others it might include feelings associated with competing, with going sky diving for the first time, or heck maybe even going diving with great white sharks.

The point is that if we view stress as a negative thing we begin to avoid it and in doing so we miss out on a lot of potential for growth and change.

So how do we fix this?

We could start by reframing our perception of what stress is and choose to look at it as being the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.

Any time that we expose ourselves to something that we perceive to be stressful we can use that stress as trigger to acknowledge that we’re pushing ourselves towards something that is going to force us to grow and change.

That overbearing boss might give you more of a chance to handle the stress or pressure of having people watch you as you perform your craft, the stress of competing can be used as a positive sign that you’re about to do something that you love. The stress that you expose your body to through training can be used to make you stronger and more physically capable of handling whatever life throws at you.

We as human beings have developed and survived this far. Our genes that we have floating around inside of us have adapted over thousands of years and are primed and ready for one big thing, survival.

That means that there is so much potential for us to become a stronger, more resilient, and adaptable human beings.

In order to do that though, we need to expose ourselves to some stress. What that stress looks like will be different from person to person but a good place to start could be with the gym.

Each time that we train we’re exposing your body to a demand for change, which ideally will result in some form of adaptation. Whether that adaptation involves increasing our muscle mass, speed, strength, or power by exposing ourselves to this sort of stress we’re setting ourselves up to be able to handle more stress in our life.

You see, stress can be used an incredibly powerful tool for driving change.

The more and more we actively seek out stress- whether it be by training, competing, practicing a skill, jumping out of a plane, or doing something that demands our body to change- the more we set ourselves up to grow.

Seeking these types of stressors sets us up to not only be stronger and more resilient but to also be more adaptable to new forms of stressors as we get exposed to them.

So the next time you’re feeling stressed about something remind yourself that it could be the key to your growth.