The modern world is a stress incubator. Actually that statement is a bit of an underestimation; the modern world is a stress brewery. It takes simple things such as the desire for a better life, a strong work ethic and the need to provide for your loved ones and makes it into heart-attacks. The funny thing is that researchers are now saying that stress and its negative health effects are a matter of perception, but I won’t get into that quite yet.
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Here are three ways to work with and not against stress and how to use stress productively.
1. Stress Perception
According to psychologist Kelly McGonigal, if you perceive stress as negative it will affect you in an adverse way. Stress is fundamentally a survival mechanism: the body sends extra oxygen and nutrients to parts of itself that will maximize its survival chances. The liver is told to produce a hormone that increases blood sugar for an extra kick of explosive energy, the blood is flooded with adrenaline (also known as epinephrine) which increases heart-rate and blood pressure and the respiratory system works harder to maximize oxygen intake. Short term stress can even boost your immune system. While long term stress will make those systems and mechanisms go hay-wire and actually damage the body, momentary stress practically gives you super-powers! Another study done by MIT in 2013 (referenced in this article on mensfitness.com) talks about the distinction between the perception of stress when negotiating; although both groups experienced the same physical effects: increased heart rate, rapid shallow breathing and jitteriness, the people that enjoyed negotiating actually perceived stress as excitement, whereas the individuals that didn’t like negotiation perceived it as anxiety and stress.
2. Hemispheric Priming
Dependent on the activity that you are engaging in you might need to use the right or left side of your brain, left is for analytical/linguistic task, right is for spatial/perceptual tasks. According to research done by scientists at the Faculty of Sport Science, Technische Universität München, München, Germany, hemisphere priming actually helped against motor skill failure – or folding under pressure, choking – in professional athletes, meaning that preparing the right (spatial/perception) hemisphere by simply squeezing a ball in their left hand actually increased their performance under pressure.
3. Stress Reaction
A stress reaction is series of actions a person enacts during time of psychological distress. Often it’s cleaning your house, getting a haircut or organizing your work space. These actions can actually be beneficial and help distract you from ruminating on the items creating the stress and it’s also a way of exhausting the excess amounts of blood sugar and adrenaline in your system that are produced as a reaction to stress. Of course, that is taking into consideration that your stress reaction is a positive one. Especially in a business environment and more specifically in sales a manager’s stress reaction might be micromanaging his/her sales team, pending meeting financial goals. This will most definitely damage sales, preoccupying the sales staff with rapid changes in policy, demotivating the sales personnel and making them concentrate on their conduct instead on their job.
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Are there any other tricks you know to manage stress and make it work for you? Let me know in the comments section below.