The hidden benefits of stress

How to use stress to make yourself a better person!

Feeling stressed? Embrace it! New research shows that stress can actually make you happier and stronger – just by viewing the experience more positively.

Make the most of stressful career moments

Instead of treating stress as a disease, experts are encouraging us to reset our minds to view the negatives of stress as positives. By taking a more positive view of stress and actively choosing to see the upside, we can transform the effect that it has on us. This means that stress can actually be beneficial and give us an opportunity to learn and to grow.

The next time the pressure is on, instead of getting “stressed out” try these expert tips to turn that stress into strength:

  1. GET PUMPED – You know the signs of stress: a faster beating heart and breathing along with sweaty palms. This is your body trying to give you energy – and this energy can help you do better under stress. Your body knows how to prepare you for the challenge and transform you into a corporate warrior!
  2. SEE THE POSITIVE – The physical harm from stress is related to the restriction of blood vessels. The simple way to avoid this reaction is to see the stress as a positive – which actually prevents the blood vessels from constricting. This is your life and your situation. YOU get to choose how to see it. This mental shift not only protects the body, but also empowers you into action instead of paralyzing you in fear.
  3. TALK IT OUT – Stress makes you social – since the neural hormone that helps build strong relationships, Oxtytocin, is also released. It’s what makes you want to share your day with your spouse, or grab a beer after work for a gripe session with a pal. And the more you do, the more Oxtytocin you’ll release. This “sharing hormone” strengthens, heals and protects the heart from the effects of stress. So listen to that natural instinct to share your challenges with those closest to you.
  4. TAKE A BREAK – During times of stress it is especially important to take a break and put your focus on something else; even if only for a quick workout session, walk around the block or coffee break with a colleague. These moments when you are not “working on your mental knot” give you clarity and perspective to freshly tackle the problem when you return to it. Try having a quick laugh with someone in the office that is also under pressure. This not only breaks the tension, but also helps to create a positive work atmosphere – which benefits everyone.
  5. REFLECT AND REJOICE – Once the stressful event or situation is over, it is human nature to replay the negative parts over and over in your head. That’s ok… but also remember to savor the experience itself and see what you’ve gained from it. That’s right! You survived this. You are awesome.

Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and recognized expert on stress management. Image by Stephanie Mohan

Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. states, “If we face a specific challenge – such as giving a presentation, going on a job interview, or taking an exam – we may feel stressed for a while, but then we feel better. We experience engagement, hope, and confidence. If we can do this, we can do something even more difficult the next time. We start seeing ourselves as resilient, capable, or even brave.”

Stress is a part of our everyday lives, from deadlines to obligations and sometimes even the work environment itself. It’s part of the natural order of things when facing new challenges. Without it, life and work would be boring. If you are ever faced with the choice between taking on a stressful position/project or one that is more relaxed, ask yourself which one is more meaningful to you? Which option would provide the most growth? You have all the tools you need to handle the stress, so go with your gut and take on that challenge!

 


About the Author

Carol Peitzsch is a wordsmith specializing in marketing and branding text. With over 25 years experience in the corporate world – from Silicon Valley to Europe – she shares her knowledge through various media outlets and gives marketing lectures at the EU Business School in Munich.