“Every moment of high human potential occurs amidst stress, not the absence of it” -Shawn Achor

Embracing Stress

We all know that stress can lead to hospital visits. We all know stress can lead to health issues both physical and mental. Stress can ruin relationships and stress will, in many cases hinder any given performance. But what about the positives of stress? What if I told you there is research out there that shows that stress can actually increase performance?  What If it told you that there is research out there that suggests that stress can actually propel you toward your goals and a brighter future? What if I told you stress is good for you?  morning-time-alarm-bell-medium
Research shows that:
Hormones released during the stress response can increase memory and cognitive function.
Stress can increase the speed at which the brain processes information.
Stress can increase one’s sense of meaning.
Stress can increase mental toughness.
Stress can produce a greater appreciation for life.
Stress can help you have heightened awareness and gain new perspective.
Stress causes the release of growth hormone which can help recovery from injuries.

All of these things about stress are not only interesting, but also extremely desirable. Who wouldn’t want more of every single thing on that list?

A study done by Positive Psychologist Shawn Achor alongside Ali Crum and Peter Salovey on 380 managers at a company brought some interesting findings to light. The 380 managers were split into two different groups; one group was shown a video about all the negative, unhealthy, debilitating things about stress and the other group was shown a video that highlighted all the positive and helpful aspects of stress listed above.

One week later, the two groups were assessed using the best metrics psychologists have to evaluate stress and health. The group who watch the video highlighting the positive aspects of stress saw a 23% decline in the physical symptoms associated with stress: headaches, backaches and fatigue. Also, that same group saw a 30% increase in productivity.  If that isn’t telling of the effects of looking at stress in a new light, I don’t know what is.

The mind is so much more powerful than we think. If we can continue to practice daily habits of looking at stress as an opportunity to gain mental toughness, motivation, intelligence, immune health and increased productivity, we can learn to shed a new light on one of life’s constants. Stress will always be there…we must choose to look at it through the right lens.

**This blog was inspired by award winning positive psychologist Shawn Achor’s book “Before Happiness“.

To Your Success,

Michael Chandler