Change and Stress


If you look at the generic dictionary definitions of change, e.g., the process of becoming different, change doesn’t sound too scary or seem too complicated, right? But, the reality is that change can be incredibly complicated, and stressful, and full of challenges. Or, change can impose challenges but still create positive emotions and welcome outcomes. Some experts say your perspective on whether change is good or bad is shaped by several factors including your life experiences, your confidence, your personality, and your overall attitude.

It is true that stress related to a perception of change as negative can have significant impact on our health, relationships, thinking, and performance, this validated by research that shows that stress is the number one health threat in the United States (Word Health Organization), with 70-90% of doctor visit being due to stress-related issues (American Stress Institute) and stress being linked to six lead causes of death ( American Psychological Association).

While these risks are real, recent research (Harvard Business Review) is showing that work strain, when managed correctly, can actually have a positive impact on productivity and performance.

Stress is unavoidable. “We live in a world of ongoing worry, change, and uncertainty. You have to get used to it,” says Justin Menkes, an expert in the field of C-suite talent evaluation and the author of Better Under Pressure: How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Themselves and Others. “Stress is an inevitable part of work and life, but the effect of stress upon us is far from inevitable,” says Shawn Achor, an expert in positive psychology and the founder of Good Think, Inc. Both Achor and Menkes agree that altering your approach to stress can yield positive effects. “Stress can be good or bad depending on how you use it,” says Achor. In fact, how you manage pressures can distinguish you as a leader and give you a career advantage.

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