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Video by Eric Scherder about stress and what you can do about it.

Stress often has a negative connotation 

We are often warned about the possible negative consequences of stress. But stress does not mean much more than a burden on the body and/or mind. And load makes you strong, if followed by time for recovery. Just look at sports, which is in fact stress for the body and yet very healthy. 

Mental stress is just as healthy as physical stress (read: sports); it activates your mind, energizes and improves your performance. Mental stress is basically "strength training" for your brain. But, just as an hour of exercise a day is sufficient for the body, there are also limits to healthy mental stress for the brain.  


An important factor appears to be how you experience stress. If you experience stress as something negative, for example as a threat, your body produces hormones that - during a longer period of stress - have a negative effect on the body. However, if you experience stress as something positive, for example as a challenge, your body will produce hormones that promote recovery and growth. Your body will then deploy all resources to meet the challenge. 

It is therefore a healthy thing to learn to see the bumps that come your way as a challenge and to use resources where the bumps are too high.


Possible Resources: 

  • social contacts

  • faith 

  • meditation / mindfulness 

  • sleep 

  • knowledge

  • resilience training


Whatever stress sensations you experience, don't try to make them go away. Rather focus on the energy, strength and motivation that stress gives you; your body gives you access to all your resources to overcome challenges. 

So don't breathe deeply to calm down, but rather to feel the energy that you have at your disposal. Then use that energy to achieve the goal you currently have. 


Three steps to positive stress

  1. Acknowledge the stress when you experience it. Just allow yourself to notice the stress, including how it affects your body.  

  2. Welcome the stress by recognizing it as a response to something you care about. Can you relate this to the positive motivation behind the stress? What is at stake here, and why do you care?  

  3. Use the energy the stress gives you, instead of wasting it on managing the stress. What can you do right now that aligns with your goals and values? (McGonical)


Positive stress responses

Not only the well-known flight or fight response, but also seeking connection with others, coming up with creative solutions, caring for others, becoming courageous are examples of stress reactions. An increase in vitality, growth and resilience, experiencing more energy, strengthening motivation and concentration, increasing self-confidence and  well-being, are also possible positive reactions to stress.  


Stress produces hormones that help you recover, you don't have to recover from stress, stress itself ensures that you can recover. Although most people see stress as harmful, high levels of stress seem to go hand in hand with things we want: love, health and satisfaction with our lives. 

And yet it's not uncommon to long for a stress-free life. While this is a natural desire, it comes at a high price. In fact, many of the negative effects we associate with stress may actually be the result of trying to avoid it.

Psychologists have found that trying to avoid stress leads to a significant reduction in well-being, life satisfaction and happiness. Avoiding stress can also isolate you. A lack of meaningful stress can even be bad for your health. (McGonical 2015) 

“The stress response is your greatest ally in difficult times – a resource you can rely on rather than an enemy to defeat.” (McGonigal) 

Practical tips and links:


  • Are you stressed enough? Don't protect yourself, live life with all its emotions. 

  • Read Kelly McGonical's book 'Stronger with Stress' or watch her TED Talk on YouTube [click here

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