Everyone keeps emphasizing how detrimental stress is to our work and our health, and then they tell us not to stress. But isn’t focusing on how bad stress is for us making us more stressed and fearful of stress itself?
As with everything else in life, multiple realities exist. Just because one reality is right (that stress can be detrimental for us), doesn’t make the other reality wrong. When it comes to stress, there is a growing research showing that stress can in fact, enhance our performance and well being. Researches have proven that stress (even at high levels) has the ability to further develop our mental strength, allowing us to gain new perspectives, ﬁnd new meanings, set our priorities right, be more aware of our surrounding, build more meaningful relationships with the people around us, be more appreciative of life, and improve our sense of mastery. Physically, stress can even release growth hormones to rebuild our cells and enhance immunity, allowing us to heal faster. Wow. Seriously. Why are we just ﬁnding this out now?
Research has also shown that the way we see stress and think about stress is the determining factor of how stress impacts our body. Stress is something that all can’t avoid in our life, but we can control what it does to our body. That means if you see stress as something that’s ruining you and your body, then it becomes your reality. You become more stressed, sick and tired (talk about that incessant fatigue, headache, backaches, digestion problems, and all that). On the other hand. when you see stress as something that can potentially be your friend (if you know how to handle it), then you start to develop more strengths and can reap the positive beneﬁt of stress. In essence, our mindset towards stress will determine which response is produced.
Now that you know this, how do you use stress to our advantage at work? First, it’s important to become aware and acknowledge stress. In another word, it’s okay to say, “Yes, I’m feeling stressed.” It’s okay to feel the presence of stress. Second, try to look for the personal and positive meaning behind that stress. You’re only stressed because you care about something. What is that thing? Perhaps it’s the success of the business that you’ve put so much effort into, the promotion you’ve been working hard to earn, the family you’ve kept together for years. You’ll begin to see the soft spot of it. You start to feel some warmth, and you realise that stress is something that is bound to appear when you care about something. And suddenly it’s not that scary anymore. Third and most importantly, channel that stress response to build up your motivation and drive towards better productivity.
The most important takeaway? Don’t ﬁght stress, you’ll only make it worse. Acknowledge, accept and embrace it. Then channel that energy to get to where you want to be. Make stress your friend.