We have all experienced that feeling of stress which makes your stomach churn, your heart beat faster and your mind struggle to focus. Whether it’s a last minute project at work you are trying to finish, a day rushing around with kids or just trying to fit too much into too little time, we are told that this level of anxiety is bad for us and must be avoided.
But what if we could use stress as a positive energy to help us achieve more and increase our productivity?
The science behind stress says that when we experience a threat a small part of our brain called the amygdala activates the fight or flight response by releasing chemicals into the body. These are norepinephrine and cortisol which increase our reflexes and perception, also endorphins, serotonin and dopamine which motivate us as well as relaxing and calming us down.
Once the threat has gone the a boost of dopamine makes us feel great about our achievements. So if you could break down the big stressful tasks into smaller goals you would trick your body into releasing that dopamine each time and then feel really motivated and great about yourself!
A study by Yale University also showed that we need to change our perception of stress to being a positive force in our lives rather than a dangerous illness that needs to be cured. Those participants in the study that were shown messages that “stress can bring out the best in people” had fewer symptoms when under stress and their productivity was higher.
So next time you feel overwhelmed and your anxiety symptoms take over, try to change your thoughts about stress and focus on it as enabling you to be more productive and to feel great about your achievements.