We’ve all heard about the negative life and health consequences of stress. At it’s extreme, it causes symptoms like body aches or pains and hair loss. Stress is universally considered bad by health care professionals. But can short bouts of stress actually help you to complete tasks?
I hear people complain about being overwhelmed and overworked. Later they claim that the pressure helps them to perform better. I understand the concept of performing well under pressure. The best of the best step up when it’s time to get things done. But is there any truth to the claim that stress motivates you?
Researchers explain that when in danger, the body produces a fight or flight sensation which raises your level of alertness. The body triggers hormones, like cortisol, that help us to react quickly. Physically, stress motivates us in dangerous situations. That’s great if a wild bear starts chasing you, but what about getting your project done?
On the flip side, doctors consistently warn that elevated stress levels can even weaken your immune system. That sound serious. There is the potential for damage to your health in the long run and more difficulty concentrating in the short term. How many of us ever feel that kind of extreme tension for prolonged periods of time? When talking about stress as motivation are we mostly referring to shorter periods of pressure?
Pressure may be a motivator as long it doesn’t last long and there are no physical symptoms making your life difficult. Athletes claim that pressure brings out their competitive side. Why does it take intense pressure to motivate some people? I think I perform well under pressure, but try to avoid the last minute rally. Too many things can go wrong at the eleventh hour. I’d much rather get things done early and leave plenty of time for adjustments.
Intense pressure can motivate you to focus on work in order to get through the difficult period. This is the only way I can see real stress motivating me. Overall, stress has a negative connotation. It leads to burnout, mental exhaustion and causes anxiety. Most medical professionals want you to avoid it at all costs, especially the prolonged anxiety that leads to health problems. If a little stress motivates you, use it. But be careful of the tipping point. Find ways to motivate yourself without the associated health risks. Try to relieve stress using meditation, music or taking a day off. Avoid the anxiety attack!
Signs of too much stress include getting sick often, not being able to concentrate, body aches and headaches. Not fun. That sounds like motivation to crawl into bed.
What are your thoughts? Do you feel like stress motivates you?
Share this post with the stress ball in your life.