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Stress can be a good thing

by Guest Writter
Stanley Abbott, Author, Enjoy Stress

In today’s professional world, many in the corporate world believe we can easily fend off or avoid stress. Nothing could be further from the truth. Defined medically, zero stress is death. Stress will automatically be in your life as a consequence of being alive. If you feel unable to cope with your stress, you only need to increase your effectiveness with creative coping skills. This, paired with some strategic practices, can help increase your efficiency and success when dealing with stress in the workplace.

Stress itself has five levels of intensity. Similarly, coping has the same five levels. We feel distress when our coping skills cease to match the level of stress being experienced. More than likely, this suggests you’ll need a simple system of organized thought to boost the efficacy of your coping skills.

For thirty-one years I have been studying, lecturing, conducting workshops, writing articles, newsletter columns and books about stress management. This certainly led to an exciting progression in my approach, which went from expounding didactically at length about stress we face in our personal life and workplace to carefully developing simple, accomplishable, and easy to remember strategies. Over time I designed methods of approach, understanding, and organization, which could be easily inserted in peoples thinking and actions as they wrestled with more stress than they could handle.

Much to my surprise and joy I came to the conclusion that stress can be a wonderful positive in a person’s life. I now believe stress is actually necessary in order to reach our positive goals. Much to my surprise, it is actually quite easy to determine how you can easily outsmart and enjoy stress. If we creatively prepare for and persistently control ourselves in a stressful situation, we can thrive, enjoy, and be very vibrant and effective.

We need stress to motivate us to develop and accomplish well thought out, written down, and established goals in our life. Writing down a life map that illustrates your long and short-term goals is an excellent start.

More importantly, we need to learn how to enjoy our stress. This one idea points directly at a basic thought. That is: we are what we think! Knee-jerk and habitually ingrained negative attitudes can actuate panic and consternation in seemingly uncontrolled situations. Our negative or automatic thoughts may actually self-induce more sustained distress.

Albert Einstein brought our thought and science to a new modern level. While some of his theories are a bit opaque for everyday adaptation, I think one quote of his was not only germane to him, but it can apply to our thinking about stress in a way that is useful. He once wisely said, “Out of chaos, find simplicity.” I encourage those to whom stress is affecting their lives in an uncontrolled, chaotic, and distressing manner to look for, and consistently use, simple approaches and strategies.

There is a plethora of material available concerning stress and stress management available at a good book store, online, and advice from professionals. Some of this data and advice is good, some is bad, and some is pretty awful. Try it and you’ll see. Unless there is an effective way to assimilate all of this data and advice, it is certainly usually true one cannot really make sense of it. You will need to develop a master plan. You can actually drown in advice and details without a master plan.

I would like to give you a quick overview of an effective grand design, which has usable simplicity.

There is a simple framework that will make you R.E.A.D.Y. to exercise P.O.W.E.R. over the stress in your life. These two words are acronyms, which become a mnemonic device, which can organize your thinking and behavior. Data, information, and planning now have a place to be filed, placed in your thinking and actions.

In the P.O.W.E.R. code they represent:

  • Persistence: This means tenacity, firmness, and steadfastness toward your goals.
  • Opportunity: Finding ways to help you find and create good fortune and favorable circumstances.
  • Wellness: This needs to be a dynamic force in your life. The R.E.A.D.Y acronyms are your basis for preparation.
  • Energy: Developing strategies to show others you have ardor, moxie, vitality and zeal. Remember that effectiveness is much stronger than absolute perfection.
  • Role: This allows you to understand simplicity as you deal with the quantity and quality of your work.

In the R.E.A.D.Y. code they mean:

  • Relaxation: You can learn professional relaxation systems that work for you. Practiced regularly three times a week for about a half-hour, these programs are extremely beneficial. Yoga, meditation and Tai Chi are a scant few examples.
  • Exercise: Regular weekly exercise also provides many mental benefits.
  • Attitude: This involves only you and the reactions you choose to cope with the external world. Remember, you are what you think!
  • Diet: You can find that what you eat can contribute either to your benefit or to your harm.
  • Yield: This is the only acronym that specifically deals with how others react to you, communicate with you and possibly affect your life negatively.

Here is one last thought: Certainly, many of us have just considered quitting. One way to manage stress is to quit your job and take your resume to a newer and more conducive environment. At a workshop session in Chicago, I ran across a person who was an aide to one of the most famous tenors in opera. They would arrive in the morning for their daily assignments. They would report back results of their work that evening. The tenor would berate them and illustrate their mistakes and commanded, “Do over.” This was unfortunately quite normal, repetitive, and very distressful. They asked me what they should do. My answer was, “Quit your job with him, take your excellent resume to another job and thrive.” I later heard they did just that.


About the Author

Stanley E. Abbott is a professor emeritus from Purdue University, where he spent 24 years of his career as a member of the College of Liberal Arts. Abbott now resides in Albuquerque, N.M., where he is currently writing the sequel to “Enjoy Stress”, titled “Stress is Good.” 

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