Stressed at Work? Here’s Why That Might Be a Good Thing
Work stress can be one of two things: an emotional, energy drainer or a motivator. It all depends on your perspective. It probably doesn’t feel like it when the work is piling up and deadlines seem to appear around every corner, but as it turns out, work stress can actually be beneficial to your personal and professional development.
“I’ve spent years focusing on turning stress into a motivational factor as well as an innovation catalyst,” shares Trace Reddick, MBA, owner of Dorado Finance LTD. “Asking yourself why you’re stressed and what can be done to eliminate or reduce that stress will give you the chance to flip the stress on its head and create an opportunity out of it.”
Whether you’re already thriving under pressure, or you’re looking for a way to flip your workplace mindset, here’s how stress in the office can actually be beneficial – if you look at it the right way.
Strengthens Your Ability to Deal With Life’s Curveballs
How did you handle your first stressful situation at work? You most likely deal with those situations better now, because you know what to expect and learned from the outcomes of previous incidents. “Most of us will have to deal with stress on the job at some point – in most cases, we will at many points in our lives,” says Nina LaRosa, Marketing Director of Moxie Media. “Learning how to handle stress now can make it easier to manage in the future.”
Boosts Your Cognitive Function and Memory
When you’re under moderate pressure at work, you may feel nervous and flustered. According to LaRosa, these feelings are a response to your brain strengthening its connection between neurons. This connection enhances your attention span and memory, leading to an increase in your productivity.
“The presence of stress helps produce neurotrophins which enhance the connection of one neuron to another inside our brains,” adds Norhanie Pangulima, Content Marketing Executive at Gigworker. “As a result, improved memory can be observed. This will come in handy at work, especially because our short-term memory can hold up to seven pieces of information at the same time but only for around 20 seconds.”
Resiliency is a key skill that employers would want their employees to have and nothing makes a person more flexible and resilient than being in a stressful situation. “When this happens, employees realize that not all days are going to be good but they will also recognize that they can always bounce back after a bad event. This kind of outlook can make a lot of difference in the workplace,” says Pangulima.
Strengthens Your Immune System
“Moderate stress stimulates the production of interleukins and provides the immune system with a boost of protection against illnesses,” says Pangulima. “This means that employees will have fewer sick days, which is a good thing since 5-6 percent of work days are lost per year due to sickness.”
Pulls You Out of Your Comfort Zone
According to Tracy Y Washington, Leadership Engagement Consultant, Speaker and Coach, the stress of achieving goals calls people out of their comfort zones to accomplish more, like meeting a deadline or closing a sale, for example. “Stress, which would normally cause fear, can shift to excitement and anticipation, such as taking on a new role or promotion,” she says.
Can Help Develop Your Social Skills
Whether you’ve been met with a co-worker who does nothing but cause stress, or you’re facing disagreements with your higher ups, stressing over work relationships can actually be a good thing in the long run. “When unavoidable co-workers stress you out, it can force you to find better ways to relate to them, instead of running the other way,” says Washington.
Gives You Purpose and Direction
Stress can be the wind in your sails, if you know how to manage it. “Think of a restaurant … you usually get better service when it’s busy and the waiter has ten or fifteen tables to deal with, rather than when the place is empty,” explains Julian Jost, CEO and Co-Founder of Spacebase. “Most people need pressure to perform their best – it’s what pushes you to prioritize and make decisions quickly, so you can get on with completing the task at hand.” With no stress, no drive, people go in circles and may never meet their goals!
Helps You Expand Your Limits
Stress lets you find out what your limits are – or what you perceive them to be, anyway. According to Jost, you need to be able to recognize signs of mental and physical stress for yourself, and know when stress is having a positive and motivating effect on your performance versus when it might be time to take a break.
Often an Inhibitor of Great Achievements
Stress is a natural response to a range of stimuli, including expectations to achieve high grades in school or certain targets at work. “High achievers almost always experience moderate to high amounts of stress,” explains Maciej Duszynski, Career Expert at Zety. “What this tells us is that stress is often an inhibitor of great achievements. Perfectionists, particularly, can only be so because they care enough about a project to the point where it stresses them out a little.”
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