Harnessing Stress — Part 2

May 21, 2010 – Yes, we all experience stress from time to time. Yes, experiencing stress is natural. And yes, we all know the negative repercussions of rampant, uncontrolled stress. We feel on edge physically, are less patient with others, and generally are not at our best. The question to ponder is how to effectively handle the stress we encounter.

Stress is …

First, it is important to understand the nature of stress. Simply put, stress is one force exerting itself on another. We might experience stress is dealing with two issues during the same time period. Or perhaps the stress might involve one issue with a time constraint. We experience stress when we feel competing pulls in our lives whether at work, at home or between the two.To wish stress away, aside from being futile, may not be to our advantage. A certain amount of stress serves a very important role in our lives: Stress helps motivate us to take action. Without the pull to do something, we might well end up doing nothing. And there are instances where immediate action is required, such as when we are threatened. Stress helps mobilize our bodies for immediate, effective action to respond to the threat.

Negative effects of Stress

Yet too much stress, stress that is uncontrolled, is harmful. The negative effects of stress are well known. Living with chronic stress can have a deleterious impact on all aspects of your life. Physical symptoms of chronic stress include: headaches, backaches, stomach upset, sleep problems, heart palpitations and high blood pressure. Thoughts and feelings are impacted as well with anxiety, worrying, irritability, anger issues, lack of focus, burnout and forgetfulness topping the list. Behavior is adversely impacted as well: overeating, under-eating, angry outbursts, social withdrawal, and relationship conflicts are common behavioral effects of living with chronic stress.Stress therefore takes a toll on professional productivity by adversely affecting peak performance, for the simple reason that our minds are focusing on the stress as well as on the work. How often have we reviewed our work and discovered avoidable mistakes made due to feeling pressure (i.e., stress) to complete the work quickly? In addition, stress tends to stifle interpersonal relationships: Those who are overly stressed tend not to enjoy the company of others and conversely they tend to repel others. In short, chronic stress is not an endearing quality.How then do we handle stressful situations and decide on a course of action?

Passive Approach

An all too common reaction to stressful events is to suffer and be a victim to the stress. People who respond this way don’t take action. Things happen TO them – and though they may complain and be generally miserable about it, they don’t take any steps to improve the situation. They allow life to control them, and live at the effect, instead of at the cause, of their lives.

Recognize the Stress

Before dealing with an issue, we have to understand that the issue exists and the way it impacts on our lives. So, in considering ways to handle stressful situations we must first recognize and identify the source of the stress. We must then understand how the stress affects us physically as well as mentally and how that in turn affects our behavior.This month’s challenge – simply be aware of the moments you experience stress. Note the physical reactions you experience as you are stressed. Reflect on those thoughts which the stress engenders. Consider whether you are truly at your best in those stressful moments. And finally, be aware of the method you utilize to get beyond the stress.

Next month we’ll discuss more effective methods to harness stress to work for you.

Consider the possibilities.

Adam J. Krim                                                                                                       www.driveconsulting.net

About Adam J. Krim

Adam works as a Certified Professional Coach, delivering soft skills training seminars on a variety of topics, including Time Management, Harnessing Stress, Decision Making, Problem Solving and more.
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