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Mastering Your Stress

Stress can bring discomfort, but also managing stress in the right way can actually empower individuals. Therefore, this blogpost will provide a brief guide on how to effectively handle stress.

Stress, a seemingly relentless assailant, ceaselessly emerges from the hustle and bustle of daily lives, work-related challenges, and even the depths of personal aspirations. However, if look beyond the initial discomfort, stress can potentially be a force of empowerment, a potent engine that individuals can harness and convert into a propelling force for personal growth. The crux lies in handling stress in a manner that motivates individuals to transcend boundaries, achieve objectives, and enhance the vibrancy of lives. Robert Dougherty has stated that “If we can perceive stress as a secret weapon in life, it can serve as a catalyst for bolstering individual self-confidence and fostering rapidly evolving organizations.”


The strategies below provide some suggestions of how individuals can handle stress appropriately.


1. Redefine Perception of Stress. When talk about stress, the first thing that often comes to mind is its negative impact since it can weaken physical strength, affect emotions, and even lead to a decline in quality of life. However, the latest research shows that changing perception of stress can actually enhance health and happiness. In a 213 study by psychologist Crum, individuals asked to choose between the following two descriptions (a) Stress is detrimental and should be sidestepped, minimized, and managed or (b) Stress is advantageous and should be welcomed, leveraged, and embrace. The research found that people who opt for Choice (a) corresponds to lower levels of perceived distress along with fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, higher energy levels, improved workplace performance, and increased life satisfaction [1]. In my view, Choosing (a), may suggest a more traditional view of stress as something harmful to be avoided. On the other hand, choosing (b) may indicate a more modern perspective that views stress as a potential source of growth and development. Choosing either (a) or (b) is reasonable, as there are circumstances when the stress response is harmful, and other times when we should be grateful.


As elucidated by Stanford neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky in his book "Stress: Portrait of a Killer", "You trigger the stress response when a lion is about to attack you; you also initiate the stress response when you think about paying taxes’’[2]. When the first situation occurs, stress is beneficial, and if it is viewed as an enemy, Stress then becomes a burden. Stress is omnipresent; the key is redefine Your Perception of Stress to ensure it benefits you and others.


2. Transforming Stress: Turning Tension into Excitement, Fear into Challenge. Treat stress response as a resource that can morph tension into thrill, fear into courage, and assists to excel under pressure. There is a good way to help transform stress. Instead of attempting to shun stress when it emerges, concentrate on how can utilize the energy and drive it provides. Ask “yourself”, "What action can I take, or choice can I make, that aligns with my current goals".


3. “Befriend” Stress: Cultivate Healthy Habits. When confronted with stress, human body and especially the brain enters a state of "emergency". While this state may aid in tackling short-term threats or challenges, prolonged stress responses can adversely impact health. Therefore, fostering healthy habits to balance stress is crucial. Some methods to achieve this include regular exercise, practicing controlled breathing exercises, and meditation.


By redefining perception, transforming the energy it provides, and cultivating balanced habits, individuals can turn stress from a feared adversary into a powerful ally, fostering personal growth and organizational evolution.


By Siyuyang Wu


References

  1. Crum, Alia J., Peter Salovey, and Shawn Achor. "Rethinking stress: the role of mindsets in determining the stress response." Journal of personality and social psychology 104.4 (2013): 716.

  2. Sapolsky, Robert. "Stress: Portrait of a killer." National Geographic 9.24 (2008): 2008.

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