By Jared Atchison, co-founder of WPForms
Everyone experiences stress at some point. It's the body's natural way of stimulating our brains into acting quickly to protect us from danger. Along with it, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults aged 18 and over, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Stress can lead to many other health problems such as insomnia, depression and heart disease.
But what if we could harness those negative feelings of stress into fuel for our productivity? What if they could actually aid us in getting work done more efficiently, seeing it as a weapon rather than a burden? It could end up positively and dramatically changing the way we work and how productive we are on the job.
If you're struggling with stress, here are a few ways to use it as a tool to fuel your productivity.
Have you ever tried telling yourself that your feelings of stress or anxiety aren't that big of a deal, or that they're more manageable than you believe deep down? Perhaps you've avoided admitting that you don't know how to harness stress into something positive that can help you grow and accomplish your work goals. If so, the first step to using your feelings to your advantage is to simply acknowledge them in the first place.
According to Harvard Business Review, the first step to transforming your response to stress is to simply "see" it. If you live each day stressed out but refuse to recognize that it's something you need to manage, you can never expect to be the productive business person you want to be. Anxiety, if not managed properly, can lead to serious health risks.
The last thing you should do is deny that it's there. Denial will do absolutely nothing in helping you become a better, more productive person both in and out of the office. Recognize that you're dealing with stress and anxiety as many people do -- the acceptance itself will help shift your mindset so you're able to tackle your work projects head on even with stress.
Change how you view your stress.
Just the way you think about your stress controls how it affects you. The more you view it as something that only adds negatively to your life, the more it will manifest itself that way. However, if you view it as a challenge you will overcome, you'll be able to manage it more effectively.
The Journal of Individual Differences found that individuals who chose to look at stressful events as challenges rather than threats were able to prevent emotional exhaustion during stressful times. Believing that you can overcome your hurdles makes all the difference in how you tackle them and how you feel about them moving forward. Constantly telling yourself that your stress is something you can't manage or will only bog you down is the easiest way to feel like you're drowning in it and can't recover.
Practice looking at your feelings differently by changing the way you think about them. Rather than telling yourself that your stress is something that holds you back, tell yourself it's the catalyst to helping you perform at your very best because it's pushing you to get rid of that feeling. Use it to your advantage.
Use your feelings as motivators.
Studies show that when the brain experiences stress, it creates the chemical dopamine, which in turn fuels your motivation to act. When you look at it that way, you realize that the stress you're experiencing can be used as a motivator to be more productive and get things done.
Stress is usually viewed as a negative thing that needs to be eradicated immediately. Although too much of anything isn't good for you, people seldom consider that being stressed also has its benefits, like pushing you to meet deadlines or prepare for meetings ahead of time. Stress causes people to take action, which is a good thing.
If you feel stress-ridden, use that feeling as a prop to motivate yourself into finishing work tasks and getting things done that perhaps you've been putting off for a while. Reassess how your stress hinders you from being successful and consider how you can use it to reach your goals instead.
It's common to face stress in day-to-day life, but what's important is how you manage it in order to be a productive person who accomplishes their goals. Use it as a weapon to motivate you to do better, change how you view it as part of your life and acknowledge it exists in the first place.
Jared Atchison is the co-founder of WPForms, a drag & drop form builder for WordPress that's being used on over 400,000 websites.