Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Stress - killer? Or, motivator?

"Stress can actually be a good thing, provided we know how to deal with it," Salvatore Maddi, professor of psychology at the University of California, Irvine, told reporter Catrine Johansson of The Orange County Register (www.ocregister.com/)

"Stress-hardy" people, Maddi said, see stress as a "provocation to learn rather than something that's wrong with life." After studying stress in the workplace since 1975 and writing academic books about it, Maddi and his wife, Deborah Khoshaba, have written a book intended for the public. The book, "Resilience at Work, How to Succeed No Matter What Life Throws at You," will be out in February.

Maddi on what it takes to use stress to your advantage:

Hardiness is key to being resilient under stress. Hardiness is a combination of attitude and skills that stress-hardy people use to turn stressful situations into opportunities rather than being undermined by it. People who are only concerned with being in control view failure as a disaster.

People who are stress-hardy see failure as a way to learn how to do better next time. Hardiness doesn't emphasize control; it emphasizes learning.

It's a big mistake trying to avoid stress. If you don't treat stress as something normal, and as a provocation to learn new things, pretty soon you are going to detach yourself from everything, and your life becomes the size of a postage stamp.

Stress has been implicated in heart disease, stroke, even cancer. It also plays a role in alcoholism and drug use. Studies show that the higher your stress-hardiness level, the fewer illnesses you have, regardless of the stress level. A dynamic achiever converts stress into fuel


1. Keep to-do lists and cross off accomplished tasks. Gives a feeling of achievement and control.
2. Do one thing at a time. "Whatever you're doing," Ashworth said, "stay focused on that one thing. It relieves stress."

3. Remember that you can be whatever you want to be and that you are in control of your own life.

4. Make sure you don't make the same mistakes over and over.

No comments: