It is easy to think of stress in negative terms and try to eliminate it from our lives completely. Did you know that stress is necessary for us to become better, stronger and more resilient? Leading Performance & Sport Psychologist Dr. Mark Bellamy explains.
Understanding growth and development
Stress has become a bogey word, but actually a life without stress would be very disappointing indeed – growth and change would not take place, and the absence of stress would actually cause distress. Getting this point is critical. It is well understood from a physical perspective in terms of training, where we can load the body with stress of a physical nature, and providing there is an environment that allows recovery to occur (both internal and external), then physical development will take place.
If however, the load is too great, or the recovery environment is not good enough, we will move from a period of overreaching (where super adaptation is possible), to one of overtraining where the body and mind need time to recover.
This process is identical (or close to identical) in academic, educational, sporting or career development; we are essentially loading the system with knowledge, ideas, skill development, and the rigour of going through a learning process.
If we get both the loading and recovery process right, then life can be rewarding and valuable. However if we get an overload that is hard to cope with, or our recovery from that load is poor, then life can become difficult.
Understanding load and limited capacity
Part of managing stress, and thriving with stress, is active or intelligent resilience. It is knowing how to take on board the stress that underpins growth and change, whilst keeping the load at a level where we are not overwhelmed and at the point where problems occur.
Understanding that we have a limited capacity to load is an important start point, and puts each individual at the centre of this management process. It is a great skill to have, and if we can achieve this in our own environment, then we have a massively valuable skill for the rest of our lives.
It is the same with stress as with food or exercise – too much or too little is a problem, so hitting the sweet spot and learning how to manage, control, recover from and thrive with it is a key skill.
Much of my work is around development of the skills and approaches to support thriving, and working in this area with athletes, students or professionals.
For further information and to answer your questions please get in touch with your contact details and we can discuss, in short, the potential for further work.
Consultations are available via Skype, or in person at a Hereford location of your choice, or at your workplace.
Dr. Mark Bellamy, PhD Cpsychol AFBPsS Performance & Sport Psychologist, Herefordshire
MARK BELLAMY PSYCHOLOGY CONSULTING – HEREFORDSHIRE
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Founder and editor of FitNet.
Previously gymnastics coach, massage therapist and personal trainer with 20 years of experience. Former gymnast and dancer.