80 percent. This is the number of American workers who say they are stressed on the job. And nearly half of them say they need help managing that stress. I am not sure what kind of "help" can be offered to the majority of the stressed-out workforce.
A better solution might be reframing the way we think about stress -- as something that can be channeled for good.
Science backs up my theory. Recent studies have shown that a little stress is actually good for you. Your body interprets it as a "survival strategy" -- improving your cellular health and longevity.
Of course, we all know that too much stress can be damaging. It can hurt you both physically and mentally. But this new research proves that it has the potential to also play a positive role in your life -- including at work.
Here are four ways you can use stress as career fuel:
Improve your productivity
There is a reason that coaches do not want athletes to be relaxed before a game -- a relaxed athlete does not have as much gusto as a stressed-out one. You need some level of stress to move faster. The same reasoning applies off the field. Stressful situations at work, like looming deadlines or upcoming presentations, can be forceful motivators to focus in and get more done.
Strengthen brain power
Think about when a stressful situation hits. Do you lay back and wait until it passes? No, you sit up and your mental wheels start turning. Studies show that a bit of stress (acute, not chronic) "tunes up the brain and improves performance." It makes you more alert, helping your brain to perform at its best.
Pursue greater learnings
How you think about stress makes all the difference. One study found that those with a "positive stress mindset" -- people who are able to see stress as a challenge to overcome -- were more skilled at tackling large projects at work. They even felt more "vigorous" at the end of the day. All because stress pushed them to discover new learnings and skills to meet the challenges.
Force new challenges
You probably are not seeking out stress. Why would you? It is uncomfortable and hard -- it forces you out of your comfort zone. But this is a good thing. You have no choice but to take on new challenges and find new solutions when you are out of your comfort zone. It helps you find smarter ways to work.
So next time you feel the familiar tug, do not throw your hands up in defeat. Tune into stress. Take advantage of its benefits. Channel it as a force for good. And maybe even welcome it in as motivation.
How has stress worked to your advantage at work?