While so many afflictions are blamed on it, when you’re doing great things, stress is inevitable. There are proven ways to reduce stress, but oftentimes it is simply unavoidable. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though…
…if you can handle it the right way! Harvard Business Review research suggests that much of the stress we encounter can be harnessed in positive ways and turned into productivity.
A Different Perspective
Think about a time when you were most successful and performing at your highest level — were you motivated by stress during this time?
The answer is most likely a strong “yes”, which shows us that stress doesn’t always have to be negative and can, in fact, become your friend.
5 Steps to Convert Stress to Success
The experts at Harvard suggest these steps to maximise the benefits of stress, while reducing the damaging effects it can have on our bodies, relationships, and careers:
1. The first step to dealing with stress is to recognise it — then, you can decide what you want to do with it.
2. Decide if you will see stress as either enhancing or incapacitating.
Deep down you know that things that are important don’t always come easy – in other words, stress as a side-effect of spreading your wings and challenging yourself. Neuroscience proves this to be true: your brain function improves when it re-frames challenges in the positive. When you are positive and concerned (not be confused with worried), your brain is able to expand, allowing for faster processing and increased productivity.
3. Use it. Stress wasn’t designed to kill us. In fact, back in our caveman era, it served as a very powerful tool to help us avoid dying.
Stress hormones stimulate growth and release chemicals into the body that rebuild cells, synthesise proteins and enhance immunity, leaving the body even stronger and healthier than it was before. Regarding stress as a performance enhancer has been proven to strengthen the performance of test-takers.
4. Nurture meaningful relationships during less stressful times. The Harvard Business Review article, “Turning Stress into an Asset,” noted that not only is it important to have go-to friends to listen to you when you feel like you are losing it; it is also important to choose your friends wisely as thoughts and attitudes are contagious.
5. Focus on what you can control. Stephen Hawking once said, “One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist.”
Concentrate your efforts on what you can control and avoid falling into the debilitating perfectionism trap.
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