We all know that tension is bad for us, right? Well have you heard that you can use stress in moderation as a positive benefit for our physical and mental wellbeing. Newspapers and magazines are full of articles telling us about the evils of high-speed, high pressure lifestyle. Of course they're right, excess pressure can be a huge contributor to many illnesses both physical and mental. However, if you use stress in moderation (a type of stress management really) recent research shows that rather like an occasional glass of red wine, it can actually be good for us.
There are two different ways of looking at stress in moderation. On the cellular level scientists have shown that strain in a cell can promote longevity. Acute pressure triggers a reaction inside cells that results in the repair or elimination of damaged proteins, prolonging life by preventing or delaying cell damage.
They concluded that exposure to environmental and physiological stress in moderation has long-term benefits. However when this process continues beyond a certain critical point, neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's diseases can result.
An alternative way of looking at this issue is to focus on people's reaction to the pressures they face at work. This pressure is almost unavoidable for most people, but many actually relish working in these pressure situations.
In interviews, workers cited in the following as benefits of working a high pressure situation:
They work more effectively.
That they focus better on what needs to be done.
That typically they produce work of average to high quality.
The reality is that the opposite of such pressure is often boredom - without this pressure people often lack focus and do not experience the same fulfillment from their working day. Although everyone responds differently, people generally work better when they have a stimulating task, a demanding role that challenges them, and a realistic time scale.