Which Stress You Want?
Uh, neither? Well, of course! In an ideal, utopian-type workplace where deadlines are as flexible as taffy and the fast pace of international business hasn’t sped up the pace of every transaction and communication almost beyond what’s comfortable, you could do without stress. But since that world only exists between the black and white lines of a blog, your next-best bet is to pick which type of stress you’d like to spike your blood. Your choices are good or bad.
Good is short-term stress, the kicky kind reminiscent of a nice, strong caffeine buzz. This kind of stress surges in your blood when a deadline looms and your hand is on the print key to make your report a tangible reality. You produce faster under this type of stress, and even enjoy the occasional epiphany. You move quicker, and somehow things get done.
The bad stress enables you to get things done too. But there is no satisfied deep breath at the end of the task. Instead, you feel drained. Your heart continues to beat erratically, and it takes you longer to recover and focus on the next task. Nor do you view that next task with any excitement. This is not the way to get ahead. This is the way to get high blood pressure, anxiety attacks and fatigue.
Over a protracted period of time, bad stress leads to other ailments too: missed deadlines, inferior work quality and a crabby, anti-team attitude that can read like the death peel of an ancient gong before a sacrifice for long-term career plans. If you’re scrambling to make things happen and you feel overwhelmed, take a pause to refresh. How can you get more organized? Do you need to shift lesser responsibilities and delegate? Where can you plan time to relax? Yes, I said plan time to relax. If you have to, book exercise or a walk into your schedule. Use every tool at your disposal to alleviate pressure. Cut outdated processes loose, explore time-saving options to improve your performance, observe a coworker with a similar work situation. How is he or she handling their work load? What are they doing that’s different from you?
Don’t ignore the physical signs of bad stress. Physical stress can lead to emotional and mental stress, and if that happens, it’s usually only a short time before stress begins to affect your performance on the job. Don’t have the servers in your organization grind to an eerily silent halt or accidentally wipe back-up disk storage clean because you didn’t pay attention to the early signs that read, “Stress Management: Apply This Way.”