Stress busting

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?

Research 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.