Contrary to what you might think, having a little stress can get you moving in the right direction.
GOOD STRESS BOOSTS PRODUCTIVITY
When you encounter a stress trigger, good or bad, your heart pounds, your blood pressure spikes, you might break out in a sweat or feel butterflies in your tummy. One thing’s for sure – you know you’re alive!
Good stress is vital for a healthy balance in life. Also called euphoric stress or eustress, good stress keeps us on our toes and motivates us to reach for our goals. It often accompanies good news, such as landing a job or receiving a marriage proposal. At school and at work, it can provide a boost of positive energy that helps us complete deadline-driven tasks on time, stay ahead of the competition and fulfill our potential.
THANK GOODNESS FOR FIGHT-OR-FLIGHT MOMENTS
Aside from euphoric stress, there are times when we truly need a surge of those powerful fight-or-flight hormones our bodies produce in acutely stressful situations. Imagine an out-of-control car is hurtling towards you, or a sudden crisis requires an immediate decision at work. When the brain perceives physical or psychological stress, it starts pumping chemicals into the body. Instantly, the heart beats faster, blood pressure increases, senses sharpen, a rise in blood glucose invigorates us – and you leap away from that runaway car or make that deal-clinching decision in the nick of time.
When acute stress triggers a survival mechanism that can literally save a life or save the day, that’s obviously a good thing.
TURN YOUR STRESS AROUND
Your body’s response to good stress is combined with the sum of all its responses to bad, acute and chronic stress. Regardless of the source, it’s all the same in the end – stress overload. Your body gets worn out, and risks becoming exhausted to the point of exhaustion.
For the sake of both our health and happiness, it is important that we learn to control stress, rather than let it control us. A special study from Harvard Medical School suggests that we can consciously retrain our minds to deal with stress in a positive way.
Take a pounding heart. Instead of stressing about the heart attack you’re fearing will happen, tell yourself that it’s making you stronger. The stress response will then be modified and experienced as a challenge response. Instead of constricting blood vessels and ramping up inflammation in anticipation of wounds, the cardiovascular system pumps more blood to the brain, much like it does during exercise. Rather than bringing on a panic attack or even a heart attack, it can actually help you perform under pressure.
In short, stress does not have to be your enemy. Don’t fight it – embrace it and manage it. And whatever you do, don’t stress out about being stressed.