Let Stress Make You Better

Stress is a factor in everyone's life. Many maladies are blamed on stress, yet stress plays a key role in making successful people successful. Why does stress affect different people in different ways? How can we harness the beneficial elements of stress and deflect the harmful effects?

Stress is a natural reaction of our body to change. Positive change or negative change, it doesn't matter. Our body ramps up to respond to the new situation before the situation is analyzed.  To decide first and key up the metabolism second meant that the cave man was some animal's lunch, so our body put the actions into priority order.

When you detect a change in your environment, your body reacts by releasing the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones prepare our body for quick action. Your pulse rate increases, blood pressure rises, muscles flex, you breathe more quickly and shallowly, and all of your senses become heightened. These reactions get your body ready to respond, but at a cost. Over time, untreated stress can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, digestive issues, insomnia and depression.

One expert on stress and dealing positively with stress is Dr. Michael Gervais. Dr. Gervais is the founder of Pinnacle Performance and a consultant to successful athletes, managers, military personnel and performers of all kinds. He has built a very successful business teaching people new ways to deal with stress so that their peak performance is achieved.

Dr. Gervais teaches that our reaction to stress can be negative, focusing on the possible poor outcomes of the situation, or positive, focusing on the preparation and capabilities that will enable an outstanding result. In his view, stress unlocks our energy. Too much energy is destructive. Too little energy leaves us wanting. The key is to let our energy rise to an optimum level and keep it there. Many athletes talk about being "in the zone" and Gervais believes that this zone is found when stress energy is at the optimum level.

Gervais recommends a three step method for managing stress to achieve peak performance.

Step 1: Calm your body. Using biofeedback and breathing exercises, Gervais teaches his clients to calm their bodies at the onset of stress.

Step 2: Refocus your mind.  Stress can make you distracted and destroy your focus. Using meditation and behavior modification, Gervais teaches his clients to filter out all of the distractions and narrow their attention to the situation and how they are feeling. This "being in the moment" technique pushes away the irrelevant and allows the situation at hand to receive all of the attention.

Step 3: Generate confidence. Here Gervais teaches positive inner monologue. By overtly identifying positive outcomes and reasons for success, the natural tendency toward negative self-doubt is eliminated. This is not easy, and requires preparation and some identifiable ability to succeed, but this third step puts you into the best possible frame of mind for top performance.

By following these three steps, Gervais believes, anyone can improve their performance and eliminate the negative aspects of stress.  This is not changing the situation, but rather changing our reaction to the situation.  That is the key.

How do you handle stress? Do you have a favorite technique? Click on the Comment button and let us know!

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