Science has given this kind of stress its own word – eustress – which means ‘good stress’. From boosting brainpower and increasing resilience, to motivating us to succeed, it’s possible to harness the positive power of stress instead of trying to eradicate it from our life altogether.
Attitude plays a role in how you choose to react to stress. The standard soundtrack is something like “oh my god I’m so stressed” or “this is so stressful, I can’t handle it”. But if you replace this thinking with something like “yes this is a challenge, but I can learn from it” you can put the stress to work positively for you.
High levels of stress can lead to health issues like depression and anxiety. However, exposure to moderate levels can boost resilience by teaching us to be less reactive to future stressors. For us to benefit from these manageable stressors (by making future ones easier to tackle), it’s important to give yourself some recovery time between stressful events.
If you feel stressed about anything specific, it’s a pretty strong indicator you care about it. This can be really beneficial to your overall performance. Low levels of stress can kick-start a chain reaction of chemicals in the brain called neurotrophins. These strengthen the connections between the neurons in the brain to boost productivity and concentration. A similar thing happens when you exercise.
When this occurs, it’s possible to enter a state of ‘flow’, which describes a heightened sense of awareness and complete absorption into a task. This is what helps you get things done under pressure.
The key is to stay in control of your stress levels and not allow yourself to be overwhelmed by them. If you feel that you’re reaching a point where anxiety or worry is becoming detrimental to your performance, take a few minutes to try to focus on the task at hand and not the emotion.
Remember, we choose how we react to a situation. It’s our interpretation that makes the situation more or less stressful. So understanding your reactions and emotional response puts you in a better position to manage your stress more positively.
If you’ve been experiencing too much stress lately, here’s how to have a stress free weekend.