Dr. Paul Metler
How to Watch your Stress & Liberate Excitement in Work Environments
Updated: Sep 2, 2022
STRESSFUL WORK ENVIRONMENTS
Have you ever been stressed out by work? Surely not! I can't think of why working with others in high-intensity environments would be stressful for anyone. In reality, it's pretty easy to feel frustrated or overwhelmed throughout the work week. Projects pop up. Attention gets pulled away. Control feels lost.
Transforming these stress-filled experiences can be daunting, but change is possible, and it begins with self-awareness.
Self-awareness is your most significant catalyst for liberating excitement and reframing stress.
REAPPRAISE YOUR STRESS
Investing in self-awareness provides an unexpected return. Excitement. On the surface, the mention of self-awareness probably doesn’t excite you. It’s easy to connect self-awareness with practices such as meditation, reflection, and increased mindfulness. These help us relax. And we can all use some help learning to relax. However, the shift from stress to relaxation is not the only positive shift available.
Do you believe it is possible to shift from stress to excitement more often?
You probably already know that not all stress is bad. You’ve had those moments of inspiration when it was “crunch time” on a project. You discovered a fresh burst of creativity in the heat of the moment. Achieving something you weren’t sure was possible is validating. This validation is one of the differences between Eustress and Distress.
Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy refer to this shifting technique as reappraisal. They assert that "the physical experience of stress or anxiety—a faster heartbeat and higher levels of stress hormones—is almost identical to our body's response to excitement." The adrenaline you feel during high-pressure situations is the same adrenaline running through your body when you're energized and excited to take on the day!
The difference between eustress and distress is striking. Some stress energizes. Some stress drains. Some stress seems to bring out the worst in us. Some stress fuels positive change. That’s why self-awareness provides a pathway for understanding.
Providing your team with opportunities to engage with stress will require stressful circumstances, but it is possible to inject stress into psychologically safe environments to facilitate growth intentionally. Brit Booth writes, "Intentional stress is the type that you create, control, and distribute. No, it isn’t some Machiavellian mind game that pushes people to their breaking point. And it isn’t about being a jerk, either. It’s more the opposite—intentional stress is about setting people up for success." Stretching your team should always be in their best interest and not a means to control their well-being in unhealthy or unfruitful ways. Finding ways to help your team grow will pay dividends in the long run.
ANXIOUS OR EAGER?
Although writers, some very distinguished authors, have provided context for our usage of these two words. In The Writers Art, James J. Kilpatrick differentiates between the two, “The distinction is worth preserving. To be anxious about something is to be worried or uneasy about it. To be eager is keenly to desire something.”
Developing a keen sense of self-awareness will allow you to recognize what you’re feeling in the moment and tap into your excitement. Excitement opens the door for a more beneficial lifestyle.
Dr. Kara Fasone breaks some of the benefits of eustress down into three areas of empowerment:
Emotionally, eustress can result in positive feelings of contentment, inspiration, motivation, and flow
Psychologically, eustress helps us build our self-efficacy, autonomy, and resilience
Physically, eustress helps us build our body (e.g., completing a challenging workout)
This is not encouragement to become an adrenaline junkie. It’s more about mindset.
Some stress drains. Eustress energizes. You can tap into the benefits.
You can transform moments of stress into energizing eustress.
Learn how to create positive change at our June 17 Think Tank!
Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash