The Positive Side of Stress

An interesting perspective on stress from Shawn Achor

Firstly, he reminds us that stress is a natural reaction related to the fight-or-flight instinct.  It is not stress per se which is bad for us but rather the debilitating effects of prolonged and unrelieved stress, i.e. distress. 

Secondly, think stimulus-gap-response.  Aware of the signs of stress, we can choose how to respond to the stimulus and leverage the positive aspects of stress:

“Stress can cause the human brain to use more of its capabilities, improve memory and intelligence, increase productivity, and even speed recovery from things like knee surgery. Research indicates that stress, even at high levels, creates greater mental toughness, deeper relationships, heightened awareness, new perspectives, a sense of mastery, a greater appreciation for life, a heightened sense of meaning, and strengthened priorities.”

The summary of Achor and Crum’s study, “Rethinking Stress” is well worth a read, especially for freelancers and sovereign professionals feeling stress through either over-work or lack of work. 

The study might also be of interest to sufferers of stress-related conditions such as Ménière’s (which is thought to be aggravated by stress); understanding the impact of taking a positive perspective might help alleviate the symptoms.

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