Stress is not the Enemy!

Everyone I talk to wants to know how to get rid of stress, eliminate it and become stress free. Pick up just about any magazine these days and you will find an article telling you how to get rid of or manage your stress. I am here to tell you that stress is not the enemy.

Stress is often what pushes us forward in life. It helps us to cram for exams, finish that project, and clean the house before company arrives. Stress helps us to win contests and races, ace that test or the job interview. Stress is often the very thing that helps us to make necessary changes in our life like leaving a bad relationship or moving on to a better job opportunity.

Stress does play an important role in our lives. With out stress our lives are dull and our performance is low. The right amount of stress however and we achieve the goals we set with stress providing a catalyst for high performance.

However according to the Yerkes/Dobson Law a scientific principle developed by physiologists Robert M. Yerkes and J.D. Dodson in 1908,when stress reaches an optimal point performance decreases.

Have you ever been working on a project night and day? You seem to have bounds of energy and you push yourself to completion only to find that when the project is complete you wind up in bed with the flu or a bad cold. College students often experience this at exam time, continuing to push until the exam is over and then collapsing into bed for days.

The key is awareness. It isn’t about managing your stress or eliminating it. It is about using stress to your advantage. It’s what I refer to as being stress hardy.

Stress hardy is when you are aware of negative stress and when you are aware of the feedback that you are receiving from body and mind and you are responding accordingly. As such a stress hardy person learns how to back off before the stress begins to undermine productivity and creativity. A stress hardy person is a valuable employee/family member because he/she manages his/her responsibilities effectively, without allowing stress to reduce productivity and cloud his/her vision of reality. Stress hardy people differ from less hardy on three main areas.

Hardy types view change as challenge. Less hardy types view change as a threat or an inconvenience and hassle. Hardy individuals see problems as opportunities for growth and mastery. They are not only open to change but are energized by it whereas less hardy people tend to avoid and resist change.
Hardy people are committed. They are eagerly and actively involved in all aspects of their life, work, family and social. They believe that what they do is meaningful and have a sense of purpose. They take risks and go for the gusto to enjoy life to its fullest. Less hardy people are afraid to take risks and often find it easier to detach or alienate from life.

Hardy people feel powerful. They really feel that they can make a difference and make an impact. They anticipate change and take the necessary actions to enhance their performance. They invest their energy in things they can control. Less hardy people often feel vulnerable and play the role of victim blaming others for their situation in life.

Wise employers know the benefits of having stress hardy players on their team.As good time managers, stress hardy people get “important but not urgent” activities done, activities such as exercise, planning for the future, relationship building and being proactive.

Stress hardy people learn important new skills when their environment changes adapting quickly when circumstances change. Stress hardy people know how to ask for help, share their feelings developing close relationships with others in the process. They take care of themselves by eating right, exercising and taking time for themselves. As such they feel better and sleep better which in turn helps them to focus and concentrate better.

Learning to become stress hardy is much like learning any other skill, it takes time and commitment in the beginning but soon you will find that it becomes a way of life. When you first learned how to ride a bike, you focused on the end result and practiced until riding a bike became a natural thing to do.

Start by observing how hardy you are now. Hire a life coach or someone who can teach you new stress hardy skills and then just like riding that bike visualize yourself powerful, committed and in control. You will soon find yourself soaring down the highway of life laughing and enjoying every minute.