Stress is a critical part of the human experience. It’s your body’s reaction to extreme environmental changes, a heightened sense of danger, or emotional anxiety. Your body has three ways of dealing with stress: fight, flight or freeze. All of these can be good, if you’re in the path of an oncoming car, need a boost of adrenaline for a sporting competition, or you are suddenly face-to-face with a grizzly bear.
Stress reactions have also been shown to be beneficial in business situations — in small doses. A recent study even states that short periods of stress can increase a person’s cognitive functions, resulting in brain power improvements. As long as we’re able to channel stress to solve problems, the body’s stress reactions can help us focus, get more done, and think more clearly.
However, stress can take a major toll on your body and your work when it’s not well-managed. We’ve all seen comparison pictures of presidents before and after their term in office. Many presidents have physically aged ten years in four. We’ve witnessed people who have broken the law in their attempt to get ahead. You might gain weight, start supplementing your tired body with caffeine, and calm your racing mind with sleeping pills. Long periods of stress do incredible damage to your mind, body, and spirit.
So where is the balance between healthy amounts of stress and deadly? The key lies in finding periods of low or no stress so your body can relax and recover. To manage and relieve stress, you first have to identify its origin. Where is it coming from? A person? A project? Yourself? Unfocused panicking typically ends in a lot of wasted energy, increased frustration due to a lack of resolution, and a general loss of control within the brain. Once you have identified the cause of the stress, you can take steps to relieve it. Remember, your body has three built in ways for you to deal with stressful situations.