For years we've heard about the dangers of stress. The warning goes something like this: Allow tension to sneak into your life and don't be surprised when indigestion turns into ulcers, fatigue results in burnout, and innocent nail-biting leads to serious binge-eating. But wait a minute. Some experts now are claiming that stress has another side. They say that when carefully harnessed, it can serve as a positivenot negativeforce in your life. It can boost your productivity, keep you interested in what you do, and make you more interesting to the people around you.
"Stress can create an adrenalin charge," says Charlotte Sutton, an associate professor of management at Auburn University who frequently teaches stress management seminars. "We move faster, are more effective, and have more energy. A lot of people tell me that without stress, they don't get very much done."
Here are some tips on how to tap into the upside of stress in your life.
HIRE A STRESS MANAGER
"Being overwhelmed wasn't an option," recalls Julie-Allyson Ieron about her reaction to the news that a publisher wanted her to develop a book titled Names of Women of the Bible. The problem was that Julie had a full-time job, and all writing assignments had to be tackled on weekends and holidays. Added to this pressure was a tight deadlinefive months to finish the book. The opportunity had the potential of panicking this first-time author, so instead, "I broke down the project into manageable bites," says Julie. "I decided to write about fifty-two women, which required fifty-two outlines that would result in fifty-two chapters. I looked at the calendar and figured out how many chapters I needed to research, outline, and write each weekend to complete the job on time."1