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How to Turn Stress into Productivity

Published on Friday, 12 Aug 2016

Stress is an inevitable part of life, including in our professional endeavours. We would all love to eliminate stress from our lives altogether, but the truth of the matter is that stress can actually be good for you. When we feel under pressure, stress kicks our survival instincts into action, forcing us to respond. In the workplace, stress is often the driving force that pushes us to meet deadlines, solve difficult problems in creative ways, and avert other workplace crises on a daily basis.

Physiologically, the brain needs the chemical, noradrenaline, in order for us to function. Noradrenaline makes the brain more alert and vigilant, enhancing our ability to focus our attention and recall memories. If we have too much noradrenalne, we experience stress.  We may not like the way stress makes us feel (the cold sweat, the dreaded panic, and the frantic running around), but we can learn how to leverage stress in order to be more productive.

It may be hard to believe, but the very symptoms associated with stress, such as increased heart rate and dilated pupils, are also the body’s natural reaction to excitement. Instead of trying to calm yourself down by simply telling yourself to calm down -- something that has been proven not to work in real world situations, try to see the ways in which the circumstances can be viewed as something stimulating and challenging.

Changing your perspective can help you respond better to meet the challenges of tackling the problem at hand. By turning the same symptoms of stress into catalysts for action, you can actually train your mind to associate the physiological changes in your body to a “go time”mentality in order to accomplish a task instead of focussing on the dread of deadlines and other hurdles. This mindset of stress as a scaleable obstacle then becomes the edge you need to help you pull through the most difficult of situations and time constraints. 

Once you get into the habit of reframing your thought-process when your body triggers its natural reaction to stress, you will eventually train your brain to automatically react more positively to those stress symptoms. Instead of inducing anxiety and a sense of panic, your new response will be to look to the dilemma with excitement and anticipation.

At the end of the day, learning to use stress to your advantage is a skill that everyone must learn if they are to persevere in the face any difficulty. Certainly this skill will help you go far in your professional career, whatever type of industry you are in or job you may hold. By learning not to fall victim to the pitfalls of stress and leveraging it to yield productive results, you truly will be on the fastrack to success.

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