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If we can reframe our perception of stress, it can actually
have a beneficial effect on us
Grinding teeth. Sweaty palms. Churning stomach. We all know what
stress feels like and that it's not much fun. And pretty inconvenient
too. It always makes an appearance just when you seem to need it
least. Like the morning of your TAFE exams. Or waiting for your turn
at bungee jumping (yikes!).
You can blame this on the "fight-or-flight" response, the
body's inbuilt psychological reaction to perceived risk, danger or
even just a random stepping outside of your comfort zone. And apart
from things like meditating, getting a massage or just having a good
old belly laugh, it seems this is something over which we have
absolutely no control.
Or do we?
published in the Journal of Personality & Social
Psychology indicates that how we experience stress can largely be
attributed to how we think about it. In other words, if we can reframe
our perception of stress, it can actually have a beneficial effect on us.
So how do we do this?
In the research, investment bankers were split into three groups. Two
of the groups then watched a different 10-minute video. One was about
stress being a positive force for getting things done, while the other
was about stress being debilitating and nasty. The third group acted
as a control.
Fast forward a couple of weeks. The bankers who watched the ‘Stress
is OK' vid reported better productivity, performance and mental health
than the bankers who watched the ‘Stress is Nasty' vid.
So does this mean you need to find a ‘Stress is OK' vid on YouTube
the day before your TAFE exams? Well, that probably wouldn't hurt. But
you don't even need to go that far. Just deciding for yourself that
some pre-exam jitters are actually your friend rather than your enemy
could go a long way in changing how you think about stress and be used
as your motivator for some additional study revision.
Oh and by the way, don't abandon the meditating, massages and belly
laughing. They're still great ways of de-stressing yourself once the
exams are over.