Use stress to your advantage
“There’s a difference between a positive growth response to stress and using stress as a defense,” says Saunders. “If it’s the kind of stress that promotes growth, I’m all for it.” For instance, Saunders sometimes finds long meditation retreats stressful. “But I know that inner work is promoting growth,” she says. That’s a different stress than forcing herself to do something just because she thinks she should. “I hear a lot of women say I should do this job or keep this marriage going,” Saunders adds. “We have this idea that it’s selfish to say no. But you have to learn to say no, to set boundaries so you have time to do what sustains you.” All of this stress dissection has been strangely calming. With a little attention from me—some slow breathing, a pinch of thankfulness, a no-weekend rule about e-mails— I’m finally realizing that stress doesn’t have to be my personal rumba 24/7. I may always have a higher idle than I’d like, but knowing that I can make some stress work for me injects a little pride in my two-step. It helps me relax. And yes, even stress less.