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14 Nov 2016 By AMC

Stress; Your Old Excitable Friend

Stress is something we all experience, on a day to day or on a week to week, or even month to month basis. Stress is a natural, healthy, normal response that the body is equipped to deal with. Stress is not the enemy, nor is it evil; it is our bodies’ response to ‘survive another day’ and to stay alive.

At the Australian Menopause Centre, we get daily staff emails from one of the biggest Christmas fans I know. She has only mentioned Christmas once, and that seems like weeks ago. Very odd. Did you know there is only 6 Saturdays until Christmas? Six weekends to get you and your family organised. Your recipes, travel plans, presents, accommodation. Christmas is a great, generally family orientated time of the year, but it can also be quite stressful.

Thankfully, stress is a perceived reaction. Meaning, if you think its stressful, then yes, it is stressful, but if you don’t think its stressful, then no, it’s not stressful. It’s odd, and beautiful, and it’s a response we can use to our advantage.

When we are stressed, it is our bodies job to increase brain clarity, increase energy, improve focus and get us through that stress. Some people thrive on stress and get a high from this response. Others can feel completely overwhelmed, get through the stress, but hate every moment of it. Whichever way you respond, you can learn to use this to your advantage.

A recent study was completed on the power of mindset(1). Professor Brooks recruited 140 subjects and informed them that they had to give a speech. She told part of the group to relax and to calm their nerves by saying ‘I am calm’, and the others were told to embrace their nerves and tell themselves ‘I am excited’. Members from both groups were both still nervous before their speech, but the subjects who told themselves they were excited felt better able to handle the pressure and were more confident in their ability to give a good speech. Further to this, the observers who rated the speeches found the excited speakers more persuasive, confident and competent.

With this one change in mindset the speakers moved their stress into the energy that helped them perform under pressure; they used their stress to their advantage.

Similarly, a 2014 study followed mid-career teachers and doctors for a year to see if their views on how stress influenced their well-being at work(2). At the end of the study period, those who saw their stress as helpful were less likely to be burned out, frustrated or drained by their work.

These days stress is a given, and is a regular occurrence in the lives of many of us. Regarding stress as an old, excitable friend, rather than the unwanted great uncle can be key how you perform during the stress, and how you recover afterwards. Similar to a catch up with an old excitable friend, stress can be exhausting. On a cellular level, the stress response demands a significant amount of energy and resources in order to get you through that stress, so that you can survive another day. The energy cost of the stress response must not be paid lightly.

Does unfolded clothing deserve the same stress response as a near car accident? Is worrying about your daughter’s wedding (her choices) deserve the same stress and energy as worrying about your own wedding (your choices)?

If you are stressed, you are using a vast amount of valuable energy. Does your perceived stress justify your precious energy? Are you using your energy, and thus your stress response, wisely, and to your advantage?

You don’t need to get rid of stress to live a happy, fulfilled life. Being wise with your stress response is a considerably smarter thing to do. Unfortunately, it is not the easiest thing to do.

If you are having trouble enjoying or using your stress to your advantage, speak to us about herbal or nutritional support. Similarly, if you are exhausted from the years of stress you have been through, and you have not been able to pick yourself back up again, speak to us about herbal and nutritional support.

There is no doubt that stress can be used as a force of good. If you are experiencing excessive amounts of stress, or the stress is disrupting your lifestyle, seek help.


  1. Brooks AW. Get excited: reappraising pre-performance anxiety as excitement. Journal of experimental psychology General. 2014;143(3):1144-58.
  2. Strack J, Lopes PN, Esteves F. Will you thrive under pressure or burn out? Linking anxiety motivation and emotional exhaustion. Cognition & emotion. 2015;29(4):578-91.