Stress: the Necessary Danger for Top Performers

via Forbes
February 28th, 2014

There's a direct link between high performance and the ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure, according to a Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. Stress itself (and the anxiety that comes with it) is an “absolutely necessary emotion.” In fact, performance peaks under moderate levels of stress—as long as it’s not prolonged. New research found that the onset of stress entices the brain to grow new cells responsible for improved memory. Again, as long as the stress is not prolonged.

But chronic stress increases your risk of heart disease, depression, obesity, and decreases your cognitive performance. In a Forbes article, Badberry reports, “Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ under stressful circumstances. This lowers their stress levels regardless of what’s happening in their environment, ensuring that the stress they experience is intermittent and not prolonged.” How do they do that?

  • They appreciate what they have
  • They avoid asking “What if?”
  • They stay positive
  • They disconnect
  • They sleep
  • They reframe their perspective

Sounds a lot like advice from the Bible: "It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late,  to eat the bread of painful labors;  For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep" (Psalm 127:2).

Jesus said it like this: “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ for the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:31-34).

Paul wrote: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. ... Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:6-8 NLT).

How do you handle stress?