When you think of the word ‘stress,’ you probably see it as a bad thing. You have most-likely heard people complaining that they are stressed, and are more than aware of the dangers and negative consequences of too much stress. But, what if you were to be told that stress can be good?
Stress can lead to a heightening of our breathing rate, pumping oxygen into our blood stream ready for a fight-or flight mechanism. This is an instinctive reaction that is within all of us, to quite simply fight back, or run away when faced with danger. This is useful if you are faced by a sabre-toothed tiger, but not so handy if you need to give a presentation in class, or impress at a job interview!
However, without any of these instincts we would become ineffective when under stressful situations. The physical reactions to stress are designed to allow us to act faster and think quicker when faced with danger. They give us an extra edge, so just imagine if you could channel this energy to perform better?
Luckily, it seems that you can!
It takes some practice to learn how to use your heightened senses without losing the plot completely, but you could perhaps equate it to having a super-hero type power. Like how Spider-Man has heightened senses when it comes to danger, you too can use these stress reactions to perform better.
Rather than seeing stress as your body quaking and rejecting the incoming situation (whether that is a confrontation with a dangerous stray dog, or an exam), you can imagine that you are preparing to use you ‘special powers’ to deal with the situation.
If you have ever been chased (maybe by that stray dog?), you might remember how you managed to run a lot faster than you thought possible! This is your stress reaction giving you an extra boost.
Of course, not every stressful situation will be physical, so you will need to stay calm, breathe deeply (to feed that oxygen into your system), and get ready. To do this you will have to master the stress and not become overwhelmed.
Try mentally preparing yourself for a few moments before you enter that interview or exam room. Feel the nerves, not as your enemy, but as a sign that you are getting ready to use your stress super-powers! Your mind and body are preparing to act at a greater level than usual and keep you safe. You are about to draw on inner strength that you simply don’t need to use all the time.
Sure, when unchecked, constant stress can be bad for you, and needs to be addressed, but, in small doses, and at the right time, stress can help you perform better than you thought. So, rather than let yourself be overwhelmed by the situation, know that those feelings are just your natural reactions preparing you to work harder, so stay in control, and use it wisely!