Editor’s Note: Stress is something most of us are aware of and manage daily and it does play a role in our happiness. My friend and stress expert. Elizabeth Scott, is sharing some easy habits to keep a healthy balance of the right kind of stress and showing us how happiness transforms stress.
How Happiness Transforms Stress
Stress management can be a vital part of happiness. There are multiple ways that stress can affect our happiness, both by sapping it when we have too much stress, and by boosting it when we have just the right balance of stress. (Yes, there’s “good stress!” More on that in a minute.)
Stress management needs to be a daily focus both on the job and in our personal lives. Fortunately, stress management can be fun and simple, so here are some easy habits to add to your life to keep a healthy balance of the right kind of stress.
1. Get Enough “Good Stress” in Your Life
There are several different types of stress, and basically, chronic stress is the worst and eustress is the best.
Chronic stress refers to stress that is repetitive or even constant, weighs on us heavily, and doesn’t let up enough for us to return to an un-stressed state before it hits us again.
Eustress, on the other hand, is the stress that comes with fun and excitement: it’s the thrill of a roller coaster, the excitement of a party, or the rush of the type of fun that pastes a smile on your face without your even realizing it. You get the idea.
To get this kind of stress in your life, you sometimes need to plan ahead and work it into your schedule. Join a dance class at the gym once a week if you like dancing. Hang out with friends once or twice a month if you’re not already. Schedule a regular date night. Decide what is fun and exciting for you, and be sure to make it a regular part of your life.
2. Find “Flow”
The state of “flow” refers to what you experience when you’re engaged in an activity that challenges you in just the right way: not so little that you’re bored, and not so much that you’re overwhelmed. You can actually relieve stress by adding these little challenges to your life.
Flow can come in the form of a hobby that you engage in after work hours, or can be worked into your business day if you take on responsibilities that challenge you where you have strengths, and give you a sense of pride and accomplishment. (Even better if you can trade these kinds of challenges for other work that bores or demoralizes you.)
Think of the times in life when you’ve lost track of time or felt really accomplished afterward, remember what activities bring on that feeling, and work them into your regular life. Or think of what you’re good at, and do more of that!
3, Don’t Dismiss “Pleasures”
Research has found certain activities that bring pleasure to your life — yummy foods, funny movies, even cute animal videos, anything that lifts your mood even temporarily — can actually bring lasting resilience and increase your happiness levels as well.
This is because lifting your mood can literally lead you to have a broader perspective, which enables you to notice more of the resources and good things in your life. And, that leads to — you guessed it! — more good moods and happiness!
The good thing about pleasures is that they’re simpler to work into your life than episodes of flow or activities that provide eustress. You can give your mood a quick lift with a funny video on YouTube, a nice cup of tea, a joke shared with a friend, a quick walk in a pretty setting, an entry into a gratitude journal, or hundreds of other things. The key is to change them up and to be sure to include several in your day. (Fortunately, they’re relatively easy to sprinkle into your work day.)
There are many other ways to relieve stress (you can read about them in my book, 8 Keys to Stress Management, on my page at Verywell.com or in my blog DailyPieceofPeace.com) but these are some of the simplest and most fun. I’ll share more with you again soon. In the meantime, enjoy your day!
Elizabeth Anne Scott is a writer and author of 8 Keys to Stress Management, an award-winning blogger, a wife and a mother who lives in southern California. You can subscribe to her newsletter to get regular tips on stress management and happy living.