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Stressed for Success

Libi Astaire

Stress is bad for you. Everyone knows that. Right? Actually, psychologists are rethinking what we know about stress and coming to some surprising conclusions. Here are five myths that have failed the stress test.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

It’s Thursday morning at the office of Fantastic Company to Work For, Inc. Among the half-dozen applicants waiting to interview for a job opening are Devorah and Miriam. Both are kollel wives who need the job badly. While waiting for her name to be called, Devorah goes over the notes she prepared the day before. As she reviews her “talking points,” she feels a surge of excitement. Yes, a lot is at stake and she is nervous, but at the same time she’s confident about her skills and can’t wait to tell the company about her skills and why they should hire her. When it’s her turn to meet the interviewer, the adrenaline is flowing and she’s ready to impress. Miriam also has the necessary skills and would be a terrific employee if hired. But as she goes over her notes, her eyes refuse to focus. She didn’t get much sleep the night before because she kept thinking about the pile of bills on the kitchen table, and what is going to happen if she doesn’t get the job. She knows that now she should be concentrating on making a good impression during the interview, but the more she tries to get her anxiety under control, the worse she feels. When she meets the interviewer, she’s so tense that she can barely smile, let alone talk. Both Devorah and Miriam experienced a physical sensation known as stress before their interviews. But whereas Devorah’s stress made her focused and ready to perform at her peak level, Miriam’s stress hijacked her thoughts and physical responses. What caused such different reactions? And is there anything we can do — or avoid — when stress threatens to take over our lives?     

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