In biology, stress is simply a response to a stressor, or a perceived challenge in the environment. While chronic stress has been known to generate some unhealthy side effects, short term stress is absolutely necessary for survival. The fight or flight stress response in organisms (including us!) facilitates making snap decisions to encourage survival.
Survival isn’t often on my mind, but stress is still integral to everything I do. Track and field, public speaking, riding my longboard down the hill, playing a game on my phone, even cutting a carrot all requires a focused mind and a body prepared for anything.
Without a little bit of adrenaline (or a lot, in the case of the carrot) I am pretty confident I’d screw up. I’d be lethargic out of the starting blocks. I’d miss the opportunity to convey my message to an audience. I’d hit a crack and fly off my longboard. I’d lose the game. Blood would probably be shed.
The key lies in viewing stress in this positive light instead of letting it carry you off downstream. The next time your heart starts pounding, your palms sweat, and your muscles get twitchy, remember that these responses are there to help you perform at your peak! Your body has recognized a challenge in your environment and is reacting so that you may rise to meet it head on. Take advantage of your heightened state of awareness and go to battle!
As long as we cope with stress in a confident manner, we can use it to reach new heights.
Cue the stress response!
This post was inspired by an article about public speaking published by the University of Rochester. Check it out here!