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Positive Stress

A Positive Stretch for Employees

This is how great companies push employees to grow

Kinds of stress

The common feeling about stress is that it has a negative impact on our health. This is not completely true as there is positive stress and negative stress. The following three statements are indicative of negative stress:

  • Don’t push me so hard,
  • I can get all A’s, and
  • I’m working as hard as I can.

These three examples of too much stress give stress a bad name. How about three more examples:

  • I pushed myself to intensely focus on my project five minutes more than I did yesterday,
  • Extra 10 pounds on the barbell I felt would be too much, and
  • My boss asked me to look at something a different way.

These three examples show stress in a more positive light.

Stress can be good and bad. Individuals use stress when they push themselves and that leads to positive benefits. When people push themselves too far then pressure mounts and stress has a negative impact.

The impact of stress is dependent upon the individual.

View of stress (a 15 video on looking at stress differently)

A study performed in 2010 found that individuals who found stress as facilitative experienced a 43% reduction in premature death. Individuals who viewed stress as destructive had a mortality impact. The interesting thing here is that the difference between the two cases was strictly due to perception.

Benefits of stress

When individuals outlook is on positive stress and stressors are looked at as challenges rather than threats, then negative emotions like fear and anxiety decrease. Researchers refer to a “challenge response” when an individual interprets stress as a positive that is productive and stimulates growth.

The benefits of stress are not just empirical but are also seen in the balance of hormones.

Hormones in play

When people experience stress, it impacts the level of two hormones in the body. Cortisol anddehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) are two naturally occurring hormones in the body. As with all hormones both of them are important and both of these changes based upon an individual’s perception of their stress. Chronically elevated cortisol leads to inflammation, decreased immune function, and depression. DHEA is linked to decreased anxiety, depression, heart disease, neurodegeneration, and other diseases and conditions.

Stress elevates DHEA. An important health ratio is DHEA/Cortisol.  This ratio is referred to as the “growth index of stress.” If you see stressors as a challenge you’ll release more DHEA than cortisol. This leads to increased health benefits.

Propagate beneficial stress throughout your whole organization

A way to benefit your employee’s ability to handle stress is to start a Continuous Improvement program. The Toyota C.I. methodology nurtures growth in order to manage stress. I said manage stress and this means apply stress in a healthy and positive manner.

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