3-minute read - enough time for 0.5 morning lattes ☕
When you hear the word “stress” what do you think of?
Is it a sea of emails that never seem to go down, or, is it having multiple deadlines which simply feel unattainable? Stress in general has many negative connotations, and in some situations, rightly so!
However, stress is something that can also be good for us when harnessed and used in the right way.
What is stress?
There is “good stress” which is defined as Eustress. This is what we feel when we are excited. Our pulse quickens and our hormones surge, but there is no threat or fear. We feel this type of stress when we ride a roller coaster, compete for a promotion, or go on a first date. There are many triggers for this good stress, and it keeps us feeling alive and excited about life.
However, “bad” stress is what makes us feel negative, overwhelmed, and burnt out. This is also known as Acute Stress, Chronic Stress or Burnout, depending on the severity.
It can often be difficult to define the types, especially if you are in a role or profession that naturally comes with a mixture of the two. However, stress is part of the parcel of leading a normal life, and without it, you may feel bored or unfulfilled! Stress can be a good indicator of how excited you are about your work or home life.
So how can you harness stress to make it work for you? We’ve gathered up our 3 top tips:
1. Identify your working style
For some, doing tasks with pressure or stress is what motivates them to get things done, whereas others have to spend a lot of time carefully planning out their day. Identifying your working style can be difficult to do if you’ve never thought about it before, so speak to your colleagues, manager(s), and peers within your organisation to get an idea of the type of person you are from a team perspective. Another way of doing this is by taking a personality or psychometric test online which will give you valuable insight into the type of person you are at work.
2. Journal your thoughts at work for a week
To truly understand when stress is a help rather than a hindrance, commit to journaling for a week whilst you’re at work. When you’ve completed a task or come out of a meeting, write down how you feel on a scale of 1-10. 10 being the most stressed and 1 being not at all. Finding out which tasks bring you the most stress can allow you to forward plan, as well as also define which tasks hit the sweet spot (between 4 and 6 on the scale) so you can see what will work for you.
3. Communicate regularly
We’re certain if you look back at some of your most stressful moments, poor communication has been a contributing factor. It may have been that you didn’t get your point across in a meeting well enough, or you haven’t communicated your boundaries effectively. Making stress healthy and not debilitating can be largely solved through communication. Better to over-communicate and reduce your stress levels (and avoid it going into chronic territory) than to under-communicate and run the risk of feeling negative about a task or project.
Overall It’s important to be kind to yourself, and understand that chronic stress (or feeling overwhelmed and out of control) will not be good for your mental or physical health. Instead, making stress work for you is all about self-awareness and recognising when you feel excited and motivated by stress, rather than burdened by it.
If you think this is the case, dive into our free handbook on Mental Health in The Workplace, available to download now.