Eliminating stress from your working life might not be a realistic possibility. So, is there a way to somehow use this energy to your advantage?
There’s so much talk these days about the harmful effects of stress. Worrying about how to reduce stress in your life can become stressful in and of itself! But, there is an answer. Stress doesn’t have to be such a negative experience. There are actually ways to harness its power for productivity and greater success.
There’s Good Stress and Bad Stress
Learning to have a different relationship to stressful feelings and experiences is a process. The first step is building an understanding about the difference between positive and negative stress.
Chronic stress is unhealthy — it’s unrelenting and immovable. It’s commonly associated with a feeling of lack of control over your future. This type of stress has negative effects on cognition and is generally bad for performance.
However, there’s also another kind of stress. This is the type that is time-limited and ends when a goal or objective is accomplished. It’s associated with challenges, not negative conditions that you can’t change. This type of stress, if managed carefully, can actually improve performance. It can serve to focus your attention and help you accomplish tasks.
Harness the Power
There are ways to help move chronic stress, and transform it into the more productive type. One way to do that is to set goals that are more time-limited.
Try to establish measurable and achievable goals. This type of structuring allows you a feeling of accomplishment when conditions are met. In essence, it helps you turn chronic stress into something you can work with.
Another way to help manage stress in a positive and productive way is to learn how it affects you and how you can best control it.
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women’s heart health at the Heart and Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital, advocates building a better understanding of your stress tolerance levels and common triggers.
“The sooner in your life you find out what it is you can do to help with stress, the better off you’ll be, and the easier your career will be,” Steinbaum told Fast Company.
It’s also important to embrace self-acceptance. If you’re less tolerant of travel than many of your coworkers, for example, don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, embrace and accept who you are. Resisting your nature only compounds the problem.
Learn to Thrive Under Pressure
Recognizing and acknowledging stress is key. Denying it or trying to avoid the problem only makes things worse. Similarly, feeling put upon or like the situation is hopeless can be damaging.
Stress is harmful when it triggers a flight or fight response. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. It can actually be constructive, even exhilarating, when you take action, set measurable goals, work to make things better, or help someone else.
Over time, this will make you happier, healthier and more in control. Plus, professionals who work this way build a reputation for being able to thrive under pressure. And that could do wonders for your career.
Tell Us What You Think
How do you cope with pressure at work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.