Published:  01:08 AM, 01 December 2017

Using stress as inner drive

Using stress as inner drive

Life is a prolonged journey or going forward against hostile circumstances. Being fraught with constant challenges, misfortunes and unavoidable tragedies life is synonymous with stress, having a lot of its telling effects. But at the same time stress is a great motivator without which we would stagnate with complacence and never grow. Generally, we face stress with fight, flight or freeze response. In other words  we can face the challenges, avoid the same or just collapse before it. The secret of success and meaningful life lies not in avoiding but in coping with stress and making use of this emotion as achievement drive.  Every success is grounded on a history of overcoming stress.

The word 'stress' used to mean force, pressure or strain put on metallic objects to give them requisite shape. From the field of engineering or mechanics it was first used in behavioural science or human psychology by Hans Selye to indicate physiological and psychological reaction to pressure, challenge, danger and change from environmental and internal stimulus. Although stress is synonymous with life its unbearable extent causes innumerable psychophysical ailments. While lack of stress makes life dull and unprogressive, proper management of stress makes life more enjoyable, better, challenging and successful.

Stress can shape our life properly or break us with incurable ailments like chronic indigestion, hypertension, migraine, cardiac problems etc. At psychological plane it causes anxiety, irritability, aggressiveness, depression etc and blocks clear or rational thinking with seizing obsessive emotional excess. In short, stress disturbs physical system, emotional equilibrium and intellectual faculty- inviting all sorts of ailments-  physical, psychosomatic and psychological.

In modern times stress is developed almost everywhere due to highly competitive lifestyle, erosion of ethics and sense of values and demonstration effects. It can be caused by disaster or family tragedy of any kind, relational imbalance or workplace complexities. It may cause from sheer unrealistic expectations that everybody must like us and be logical, we must not grow old, our relation will always remain smooth, our children should always be toppers, we must always prosper and remain free from ageing and disease etc.

 Whatever might be the cause of stress we must keep in mind that stress as emotion is neutral while its effects can be positive or negative according to our response. So it has to be tackled with emotional intelligence making a paradigm shift in response.

We can accelerate forward with proper use of stress or go reverse or even break down by it. Every hostile situation or tragedy, every stone thrown at us and every challenge can be used as stepping stone for progress.  Its negative effects are invited by our resistance to it with self-pity and indulgence in undue comparison with others. When we keep stress at optimum level as combatable challenge, it is called eustress, otherwise it causes distress.   We tend to face stress with fight or fight response. By avoidance or flight we gain nothing and create more stress for future.

Job stress, common to most of us is almost unavoidable. Until and unless the diehard conventional management practice is replaced by scientific man management and leadership principles, stress will continue to be there and one has to develop immunity within oneself. The best way to tackle job stress is to like or love the job we have to do and develop a sense of self-appreciation with self-esteem.

When we like or love the job we invariably give our best to it and performance improves. It may not be appreciated by the boss or others due to various extraneous reasons but we must objectively assess and appreciate our work and take the pleasure of doing the best we could. At the same time we must keep us updated with latest knowledge and skill and do our work with a difference. We must try to change negative situations to the extent we can, and accept what cannot be changed, and know the difference. After all we can change only ourselves and no one else and by changing us we can change others in due course.

Proper use of time by fixing priorities drive stress away. Everyone gets only 24 hours a day without exception. But those who want to perform within that time they do, those who do not want find excuses. Management of time is a must for management of stress.

We should mobilise resources, communicate with right people and organize work and be ready to say and accept 'no'. It is also expedient to be prepared to be fired as sometimes a conventional boss under stress indulges in firing occasionally to ventilate his own stress rather unknowingly.  After all, no one can insult you if you do not accept it and take it with good humour, inwardly understanding the psychological plight of the offender.

Many people think that behaving like a sycophant or yesman is the best way to avoid organizational stress. But it tremendously hurts self-respect and invites disrespect with stress. Everybody likes a sycophant but nobody respects a doormat which can be taken for granted. The best course is to develop effective assertive skill keeping in mind that every human being is basically egoistic and  full of vanity not rationality or logic.

Short term stress can be easily tackled by good diversions like - listening to music, reading good books, watching painting or movies, attending stage performances, gossiping with friends, making a pleasure trip etc. But long term stress cannot be forgotten that easily as a person having toothache cannot forget the same under any diversion.

Whatever may be the cause of stress its effect is entirely dependent on our response to it. By changing our attitude we can easily change that response and transform distress into eustress and challenge as motivator. Attitude can be changed with intense desire for changing it, strong will- power, affirmative autosuggestion and looking for the positive and divine design in everything. We must develop the habit of living in the present, forgiving others, and turning to philosophy.

For proper coping with stress we must eat wholesome food, do adequate exercise and sleep adequately using progressive muscle and mind relaxation techniques. We must involve ourselves in work and avoid isolation. We must not worry about what others are thinking and never expect much from others as return. We must avoid too much intimacy and comparing with others. Instead of collapsing in worrying we must shift to solution, consideration and analysis, and talk, act and do something immediately to drive stress away. Above all we must do small things in great manner and stretch for success in everything enjoying simple pleasures in life.

We must keep in mind that every disappointment is temporary while hope is infinite and eternal, which keeps us alive and lively. When one door is closed several others remain open in life. We should never lose hope in despair. Every type of stress can be successfully coped with prayer, meditation and surrender to the Almighty. (Words 1156)

The writer is a columnist and consultant in Human resource Management

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