● By Mel Sim
Surprise, surprise – some stress might be just what you need to excel.
Argh, stress. Each time you say this word, you think of the pressure you’re under and the anxiety you’re experiencing. We hear over and over again that stress is unhealthy and it can cause weight gain, sleepless nights, extreme fatigue, and in some really bad cases, isolation and depression.
Which is why you rarely hear people say, “I’m so stressed… Yay!”
But what if that is what you’re supposed to feel when you are stressed? Think about it – while stress can make you feel pressured, you also feel the most energetic in the situation. Nothing like a good dose of being stressed to get you off your feet and get the job done.
In fact, some experts call it “good stress”, or in proper term, “eustress”. It’s a very different stressful experience compared to bad stress (where you have no motivation and don’t feel like doing anything at all or feel like you can hardly take a second to breathe). There are two types of bad stress: Acute stress that comes from quick surprises like an accident or being put in an impossible situation, which triggers your body to respond and you find yourself feeling shocked, scared and worried, and chronic stress, which occurs from being face with repeated stressful situations – like a stressful job. Chronic stress is the worst as it affects you not only mentally but also physically and emotionally.
So back to good stress – experts describe eustress as the kind you feel when you are excited – buzzed and eager to go. There’s some level of anxiety still but mostly you feel alive. It’s the kind of stress you feel when you go on a roller coaster, a job interview at a company you’ve had your sight on for a while, a new project that’s daunting yet incredibly fulfilling at the same time.
Now that we’ve got the different stress definitions sorted out, here’s what science has to say how good stress is beneficial for you in the workspace:
#1 It “wakes” you up
Remember acute stress? Some amount can actually be good for you, says scientists, as long as it is in moderate levels. For example, being assigned a project that you need to complete by end of the week. The upside is it can potentially boost your brain’s performance, according to this study where researchers found acute stress can cause your brain stem cells to grow into new nerve cells, resulting in increased mental performance after two weeks. Which explains why some people work better when under stressed.
#2 It makes you healthier
Isn’t stress supposed to be bad for your health? Your body actually does amazing things when faced with a stressful situation. It produces a chemical known as interleukins to give your immune system a quick boost! Some people (me included) actually fall sick after a stressful period (low-stress days), which further proves this theory.
#3 It makes you tougher
Never thought you would make it through that stressful project and ace it? That’s the thing with stress as well – it forces you to think out of the box, problem solve, and rise to the occasion. It makes you more confident too. Which are all very important skills to have to advance in your career as you will feel more equipped, experienced and know that you got it.
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