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Why stress can be good for your career

Posted on from Robert Walters - Asia

We live in a highly stressed society. Most of us feel stressed about certain aspects of our lives almost constantly. James Vessey explains how stress can actually benefit your career.

Can stress really be good for you?

Most of us live such busy and hectic lifestyles today that stress has become an inevitable part of our daily lives, especially more so for high achievers. It may be hard to believe, but the stress reaction actually came about as a beneficial response, and can be vital to our work or even our lives. For example, when we face danger or a highly challenging situation, our body produces stressors that will lead to an adrenalin rush, making us more alert and pumped to react or respond quickly.

Everyone will experience different levels of stress, some probably more than others. The key lies in how you respond to it. One way to manage stress better is by actively turning bad stress into good stress, and understanding how it can actually be good for your career.

Stress is a motivator

While too much stress could be detrimental to emotional, mental and physical health or even hinder your work, small amounts of stress could actually help you to concentrate better and energise you to achieve your goals.

For example, when you are faced with an unexpected or looming deadline, stress motivates you to get your work done. It also sharpens your senses, makes you more acute of what you need to accomplish, and gives you that sharp burst of energy and sense of urgency to do your work well - and do it fast. When you have to perform, you want some stress to push you to do your best.

Improved work efficiency

The short buzz of energy released by stress can also help to improve work productivity and efficiency. Without stress, people tend to take the easy way out and often possess the undesirable habit of procrastinating work till the last minute. Small dozes of stress not only help to keep you on your toes, it also helps to improve your memory, and spurs you to perform tasks more efficiently. If not for such good stressors, we might not get anything done at all.

When stress hits, the instant energy boost released from the hormones makes the entire body go on full alert, and it becomes highly productive and focused. You think faster and with more clarity; you respond faster and your awareness heightens. Sometimes, this kind of intense adrenaline rush can numb your pain receptors to a point where it allows you to perform 'superhuman' feats – such as working round-the-clock for days or accomplishing a complicated project that require weeks to complete within a single day.

Stress breeeds success

In an extremely competitive work environment, a little anxiety is actually good, and even necessary for you. Highly successful people often use stress positively to bring about change and activity. They are anxious about today and the future; they stress about the thought of losing and they worry about not having enough hours in a day to get everything done. Without such stress, people would have no goals to work towards to. They lack focus and may not experience fulfilment in their work. They may even feel bored and unmotivated, and dread slacking or idling their time away.

This form of 'self-induced' stress amazingly injects life and autonomy into these people and propels them to reach for greater heights. They allow good stress to take over and fuel their ambition and passion for their job. Such people are often more outstanding in terms of performance as compared to their peers or colleagues, as they able to internalise stress and convert it into positive energy to develop creative solutions to their problems or attain their career goals.

Stress can be healthy

Many medical studies have shown that our immune system may benefit from short spurts of stress. The chemicals in the body released during stress can in fact help strengthen the immune system and protect it against diseases by keeping the brain cells working at peak capacity.

There is no escaping it or eradicating it completely from your life. However, cultivating a positive attitude can help eliminate any negativity resulting from stress and frees you up to focus on the solution rather than the problem.

When we try and manage various stress triggers that occur at work, we grow, learn and become stronger in the process. Stress activates your coping mechanisms and prepares your body and mind for other obstacles that they may face. This allows you to control the situation and effectively plan what you need to do to avoid further stress. The sense of relief experienced after a stressful project or event allows your body to relax, and helps to generate positive vibes as well as a great sense of satisfaction and achievement – thus boosting your physical and mental state of health.

Use stress to your advantage

Stress is a normal, healthy fact of life. The little daily stressors act as an invisible supervisor, constantly keeping a tab on us to make sure we are up to speed with our work and that we do our best in a challenging or difficult situation. You need stress to a certain degree to push you to achieve significant goals or tasks that you would otherwise not be bothered about. It stimulates your mind, provokes you to react quickly and keeps you from being bored. An optimal level of stress can energise you, improve your job performance and enhance your efficiency.

Every new, unexpected or unusual situation would almost always cause stress to some degree. The most important thing is not let it control you or your life and make it work for you than against you.

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