Stress as the Motivator Research Paper

It is hard to state that stress has either positive or negative impact on goal accomplishment. Each person has different reaction and resistance to stress as well as the influence of stress can vary from depression and absence of desire to do something to motivation and awakening of inner powers. However, the vast presence of sources about stress reduction techniques indicates that stress is not a normal state for people and it should be minimized. The evidence proves that the state of stress is not motivating individuals to reach their goals, nevertheless, the process of fighting with stress makes people stronger and provides the new opportunities to meet the objectives.

The surveys show that 75 percent of American population experiences some stressful situations every two weeks (Scott 2002). Stress is the physical and emotional reaction to change and can be both positive and negative. Stress becomes negative when people are not able to return to the relaxed state after the goals have been reached. It is important to note that everybody has a certain level of stress they can handle – what might not seem stressful to one individual might appear overwhelming to another.

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Stress affects everybody, in the same way, the difference is how people choose to deal with it. People try to find the ways to control the stress and re-direct its negative impact into positive motivation to reach the goals (Scott 2002). Forty-three percent of all people suffer adverse health effects caused by stress; stress is mentioned about deaths because of heart diseases, cancer, accidents, and suicides. Stress is expensive, and health care costs associated with stress treatment account for 10 percent of total health care bills.

Job-related stress

The most troublesome and the most motivating stress finds people in the workplace. Jobs consume the major part of human life: a job is the source of income, it helps to meet the personal goals and create social networks. It is the principal source of emotional stress. Even the calmest jobs have stressful deadline and performance responsibilities. Stress should be perceived as the motivator to ensure that things are done. From the other point of view, the continuous worries about the project, unfair treatment of the supervisor or accepting more responsibilities than the employee can handle are affecting the personal relations and increasing the work-related pressure (Posen 2004).


Mary wanted to get the promotion at work, and when one of the colleagues has left the company, she has offered her supervisor not to hire the new person but to shift the responsibilities of that person to her. Mary had necessary skills and abilities to occupy both positions. However, the workload was too much to handle. As a result, Mary had to work overtime every day, but there was still not enough time to accomplish everything. In few weeks, Mary realized that she is experiencing the continuous stress and her overall productivity has, in fact, decreased because she was not able to devote sufficient time to all of the projects. She did not sleep enough, became very nervous, and her relations with the other colleagues have worsened. Mary understood that she could not refuse from her responsibilities after she has asked for additional workload on her own and she needed this promotion.

Mary did not give up and decided to re-plan her working day: doing the top priority projects first and leaving less important for the next day. Soon her planning techniques have interested the supervisor who has introduced this technique into the whole department. In few months, Mary has been promoted. Stress has helped her to reach the goal and become stronger.

The above example shows how stress can help the individual to find alternative solutions to the problems and not only to reach the goals but do it more effectively. Mary did not give up and managed to overcome the stress and re-direct it impacts into a positive outcome. Also, stress is affecting the physical stress – erratic eating habits, the absence of any exercise lead to the weight problems and blood pressure. Moreover, stress causes the condition when people are emotionally exhausted and have a negative attitude towards themselves and people around. Such a state is not motivating to reach the goals, and if it remains unhandled, the individuals are not striving for anything at all. The key to turning stress into motivator is handling it (Alder 2000).

When stress is not a motivator

Some of the people are not able to handle stress, and they give up. According to the research, there are some factors that are considered to contribute to the stress. They include change, attitude, nutrition, relations and meaningless activities (Posen 2004). Change, despite being positive or negative, creates the stressful situation. When several changes occur at the same time – for example, marriage and the new boss at workplace – the person can be not able to handle both issues properly, and as a result the symptoms of stress appear. When stress remains untreated for some period, the individual might experience negative or critical attitude about himself and others. Nutrition plays an important role as well. To feel comfortable, individuals have to be properly fueled. In the absence of balanced diet, the body experiences stress which is transformed into the emotional state as well.

Of course, the above symptoms are not motivating people to achieve their goals or to be more active in their daily life. But, from the other point of view, when people realize and understand that their state of mind and body is not normal for them, they usually strive to balance what they are and what they want to be. In this way, individuals are pushed to either adapting to the situation or changing it to meet the objectives they have (Alder 2000). Each of us has been the freshman at the school, university or college and each of us remembers the first day at work. These are the stressful situations, but we learn to deal with them on our way to the goal accomplishment. From this perspective, stress is the motivator.

There are no fully stress-resistance people. The only difference is that everybody perceives stress and reacts to it differently as well as everybody has different stressful situations. The conflicts, small or big, happen in any form of relations. Such events cause minimal stress to people, but they help to make the decision – whether people should try to reach the goal or maybe the goal is not worthy of reaching it.


Mary (25) and John (27) have been dating for three years, and both of them believe that their relations are to end up with marriage. However, arguments and occasional conflicts between them have become very common, and sometimes they feel as if speaking different languages. They believe to love each other, but they do not see how their relations can be improved. Mary and John are experiencing stress because of this. Therefore, their goal is to minimize the stress they experience. Being in stressful conditions motivates them to conclude as soon as possible. There are two options: 1. to get; 2. to be separated. Both options will reduce the stress.

Stress is related to transition and change. There is enough evidence to support the claim that stress propels us in life and is the initiative that helps people to accomplish the tasks and create new projects. Stress is seen as the personal inability to adapt to the rapidly changing circumstances. As a result, people have to adjust to new circumstances to function in the society. In this way, people are evolving and developing.

Managing stress

From the first glance, managing of stress and goal achievement have nothing in common, but the correlation becomes obvious when the goals are achieved and not achieved. Positive stress brings more excitement to life because everybody who lives in the society goes under some amount of stress – deadlines, competitions, and personal sorrows enrich lives. It is impossible to eliminate stress, but it is reasonable to learn how to manage it and use it to help to achieve goals.

As it was already mentioned above, there is no single level of stress optimal for everybody and what is stressful for one may look funny for another (Posen 2004). Even when people agree that the situation is distressful, they are likely to differ in the psychological reactions to it. For example, the person who lives to change jobs often would find it distressful in the job that is routine. The same stress would be experienced by the person who prefers to have stable conditions but the supervisor has assigned the highly varied duties. Importantly, being aware of the stress and its effect on the life is not enough for reducing the potential harm, it is necessary to identify the possibility to manage stress and turn it into a motivational factor.

There are several steps to take that help individual not only to manage the stress but also to use stress as the motivator in goal achievement (Elkin 1999):

  • being aware of the stressors and personal reactions
  • locating the factors or issues that can be changed
  • reducing the emotional reaction to stress
  • eating well-balanced meals
  • maintaining the mutually supportive relations

If these simple steps are followed, the person learns to manage his/her stress and, as a result, the adaptation to the new environment and changes in life takes place more effectively. The modern world is full of stresses and managing stress moments is the key to high-level performance. Those individuals who manage their stress, are not only able to achieve their goals, they are highly rewarded in different areas of life. Managing stress is easy because no outside help is needed (when stress is medium), and the individual can overcome the stressful situation with his inner reserves and become stronger emotionally.

When people respond to the change or the demand by accepting the current reality and by taking purposeful actions, the stress motivates. When people deny the change and do nothing, the stress becomes damaging to the personality (Elkin 1999). A stress reaction is crucial in real crisis situations but is not appropriate in day-to-day lives. When stress comes from the angry co-worker and the long-line in the bank, the person should not run away from it. Stress is the reaction that happens in the mind of the person in response to such situations.

Stress levels

The stress reaction is neither good not bad in itself; it depends on the circumstances. Stress is good when it protects in times of danger and helps to adapt to the change. It helps to study for the exam and work towards the deadline; it helps to meet needs and achieve goals. For the majority of people, stress is work-related – the deadline has to be met, and responsibilities carried out regardless of how stressful is the environment. People cannot escape stress because of ability to react and be emotional. Therefore, stress has to be dealt with.

Each has a different level of “good” stress, the one that motivates to perform better. Too much pressure is the negative force. For example, the high jumper might not be able to jump he worries about assassination attempt; if the person broke up with the girlfriend he wanted to marry, he might not be able to pass the exams because of inability to concentrate. Too little stress is not good as well. If the person has retired from the demanded job and gained the sudden silence, the stress will not be motivating at all. Therefore, the objective of stress management is to identify the level of stress which the optimal for each.

As it is clear from the graph, increasing stress leads to the increased efficiency (more opportunities to achieve the goals); however, when the critical line is passed, the efficiency goes to zero. Too much is counter-productive and de-motivating.

Thus, motivation directly depends on how much stress is experienced. If the individual feels de-motivated to reach goals, it is a good idea to assume extra responsibilities at home and work. If too much stress is experienced, it is necessary to prioritize the current activities and learn to say no to other projects (Posen 2004). Stress situation can be avoided, even though not always. People usually can predict this or that situation is stressful and can prepare themselves for the stress.

In conclusion, stress, as the state of mind and body is not a motivator. Stress becomes the motivational factor only when it is managed. There are plenty of techniques available to individuals outlining how stress impact can be directed into positive motivation and help to achieve the goals more efficiently. Too much or too little stress is not good either, even though every person has a different reaction to stressors as well as the impact of stress is different. However, no one can escape stress. Therefore, stress should be controlled. When people are under stress, they tend to perform better, to work at the aged of their capabilities and uncover inner resources. Thus, moderate stress is beneficial for people and helps to meet deadlines, accomplish the important projects and become stronger. In the world of continuous stressful environment, people have to learn about stress management.

Annotated Bibliography

Alder, B. (2000). Motivation, Emotion, and Stress. British Psychological Society Press.
The author has started the book with the overview of existing philosophies about the mind and body dualism. The book is very interesting because the impact of stress on motivation is depicted. The author explains how stress can be a motivator as well as de-motivators. This source is used for the overall research, especially taking into account that no conclusion is made in the book whether stress is the positive or negative factor. Alder leaves it up for a reader to decide, but the key point made by the author is that stress should be managed.

Elkin, A. (1999). Stress Management for Dummies. For Dummies Publishing.
This book is devoted to different practices on stress management. The author covers job-related stress, the difference between stress reactions of women and men, health problems caused by stress, and many others. Elkin is the stress manager. Therefore, he talks about stress not from a general perspective but his expertise. The book was very useful for this research because stress is not depicted as de-motivator or the negative experience, but rather as the necessary state to achieve goals and become stronger.

Scott, D. (2002). Stress That Motivates (50 Minute Books). Crisp Learning.
At the beginning of the book, Scott notes that his writing aims to help three categories of people: those who experience stress and want the relief, those who face changes and want success, and those who carry responsibilities and want to meet their goals more efficiently. Later in the book, the author notes that all three categories of people should learn stress management techniques and their productivity will go up. Besides, the author provides some statistical information and numerous examples of how people managed to overcome stress.

Posen, D. (2004). The Little Book of Stress Relief. Firefly Books.
Posen starts the book with two encouraging stories about people whose life was continuous stress, but they did not give and reached all of their goals and even more. This book helps to change the perception of life, to find the balance and to laugh into the face of problems. The book is somewhat small (only 52 pages). However, the author has included a lot of information: identifying the causes of stress, providing detailed advice and tips on overcoming the stressful condition.

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