Deadlines and challenges can motivate us and drive us for success, but only by learning to handle them can we avoid stress and thrive under pressure.
Pressure can motivate us, but stress does not. Stress is our minds’ emergency response and is harmful to our health and performance in the long term. We can be motivated without being stressed.
Stress arises because we are not evolved for the modern world. When we perceive threats, we react with ancient defence mechanisms, emergency systems that work fine for basic threats, but aren’t so useful for the complex pressures of modern life.
Lack of control can also be a key factor in causing stress, so your levels of certainty, responsibility and autonomy are critical.
Stress arises when you feel you don’t have the resources you need to handle the pressures facing you. Avoiding stress is balancing act, of building up assets, skills, knowledge and support to handle pressures better. You can’t always change the pressures facing you, but you can build up your resources to handle them.
By understanding the psychology of pressure and stress, we can learn to manage our resources and take on pressures safely, to avoid stress and stay motivated and effective in life and work.