The role and types of stress
Stress is a natural physiological response to pressure or demands that can serve us but also wear us out.
There are five ways in which stress can manifest: physical, psychological, emotional, behavioural, and interpersonal. The first function of stress is survival, followed by motivation and building resilience.
There are three types of stress: acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress. Chronic stress can lead to physical illnesses and mental disorders. It is important to identify stressors in the workplace and recognise the type of stress.
Differentiating good and bad stress
American psychologist Julian Rotter explains the two types of control we have over stressors: internal locus of control and external locus of control.
Good stress, or eustress, motivates and excites us, while bad stress, or distress, causes concern, irritation, and disrupted functioning. An excess of good stress can turn it into bad stress, leading to chronic stress. It is important to manage stress and recognise the signs of chronic stress.
It’s possible to turn bad stress into good stress with a little work:
1. Focus on your strengths: With self-knowledge, playing to our strengths when stress kicks in may help us to thrive under pressure.
2. Be open to learning new skills: Seeing stress in a positive light allows us to learn and grow in our careers.
3. Connect with others: Confiding in our loved ones or a professional practitioner is not only a cathartic process; it also helps us see the bigger picture and create space around our issues.
To quote entrepreneur Bill Phillips, “Stress should be a powerful driving force, not an obstacle.”