Career Tip: To Stress or Not to Stress

Whether you’re gainfully employed and reasonably secure or in the market for a new job to replace the one you lost, stress is probably a factor–something you’re forced to deal with if you don’t want it to overwhelm you.

That’s the common perception of stress as a bad thing, and certainly if you’re experiencing potentially harmful stress, you need to find a good way to manage it. However, we also hear from time to time that there’s such a thing as “good” stress. This might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s worth keeping an open mind about.

Should You Accept Stress or Avoid Stress?

An article by Lisa Evans titled “The Surprising Health Benefits of Stress” makes a case for taking a positive attitude toward stress–the right kind of stress, that is. Evans offers 4 tips on “how to use stress to your health advantage”:

  1. Assess what type of stress you are experiencing.
  2. Boost brain power with an adrenaline rush.
  3. Keep stress short lived for improved body function.
  4. Allow for recuperation.

Although all four points are good, I believe #1 is most important. If you’re experiencing stress that’s having a major negative impact on you and could damage your health, that’s something you need to know ASAP and take strong action about.

Why Not Ignore Stress?

If you ignore negative stress, the results of doing that can be severe–physically, mentally/emotionally and job or career-wise.

If you ignore positive stress, you could miss an opportunity to increase your effectiveness and achieve desired goals more quickly–earning a promotion in your current company, conducting a job search campaign for a new position, acing an important interview, and more.

Make Stress Part of Your Career Management

Since it’s probably inevitable that you’ll experience stress related to your job or career many times throughout your working life, I advocate developing a plan to increase your ability to head off or dispel the negative kind, benefit from the positive kind and recognize early-on which type you’re facing. Then incorporate that plan into your overall career management, so you’re fully aware of it as a factor in your long-term career success and short-term well-being.

Does this mean you need to be constantly on the alert about stress? Not really. In fact, I doubt whether anyone could lead a satisfying and healthy life by trying to stay that “fired up.” However, if awareness is part of your career management planning, you’re more likely to spot the signs and identify opportunities to take positive action.

A key point: Manage your stress–don’t let it manage you.

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