We all know that feeling: the tightness in our chest, the racing heart, the sense of impending doom.
We refer to this feeling as stress and usually don't consider it a good thing.
But what if we could learn to see stress in a new light? What if we could use it to our advantage?
It turns out that stress can be a powerful tool - when harnessed correctly.
When used positively, stress is known as 'creative tension.'
This stress is associated with excitement and anticipation and can lead to better performance and creativity.
Creative tension is a byproduct of clearly defining our vision and current reality. However, in doing so, the gap between our dream and our current reality becomes obvious and leads to discomfort.
This gap creates an internal tension that seeks resolution. Resolution can come from being more resourceful.
To illustrate an example, imagine that your left hand represents your current reality, your right hand represents your vision, and a rubber band is stretched around both hands.
The more significant the gap between your vision and your current reality, the more the rubber band will stretch. The greater that tension becomes, the stronger your motivation or energy for change.
We tend to avoid the discomfort caused by tension and move the rubber band back to a non-stretched position.
There are different strategies for how we go about it. The most common approach is to reduce the gap by giving up on the vision or lowering it.
Giving up on our vision or setting a lower bar helps us feel less stretched, but simultaneously, it reduces our drive, creativity and resourcefulness.
However, if we allow ourselves to step outside the comfort zone and embrace the tension, the rubber band will fly much further once it is released.
Creative tension is what we could call a positive form of stress or, in other words, eustress.
Difference between stress and eustress
It's essential to understand the difference between stress and eustress.
Stress is the body's natural reaction to perceived threats, and it can be adaptive in small doses.
On the other hand, eustress is a positive form of stress that can be beneficial.
The main difference is that eustress comes from within, while stress is imposed from the outside.
Eustress or creative tension is the feeling of being stretched beyond your current abilities, but in a way that is ultimately motivating and satisfying.
This type of stress can lead to increased productivity and creativity, as well as a sense of mastery over whatever challenge you're facing.
In contrast, negative stress, or distress, occurs when we are overwhelmed or unable to cope with the demands placed on us.
This type of stress can lead to feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, depression, and frustration.
It can suck our energy and motivation, making it difficult to focus on the task at hand. Moreover, if we don't manage distress effectively, it can lead to physical health problems.
So, next time you're feeling stressed, take a moment to check in with yourself and see if it's the eustress or distress that you're experiencing.
Identifying the type of stress you're under can help you determine how to best deal with it.
If it's eustress, lean into it and use it to your advantage. If it's distress, however, take steps to reduce or eliminate the source of the stress.
Either way, stress is a part of our everyday lives, and we can't entirely avoid it. Learning the tools to deal with stress and expanding our resilience makes all the difference.
Kamila is a freelance writer and founder of Liberation Journey. She is on a mission to teach others about the true notions of freedom. She guides and empowers people to release what weighs them down so that they can live more fulfilling, liberated, and authentic lives.