Andrew Wittman has been through more than a few stressful situations.
The Marine Corps veteran saw combat during the invasion of Panama and Operation Desert Storm during his six years of active duty.
He then served as a South Carolina police deputy for about a year before becoming a US Capitol Police agent.
As a federal agent, he worked on then-Senator Hillary Clinton’s security detail during the 2001 anthrax attacks and protected other members of congress including Nancy Pelosi and Joe Lieberman.
Through all of this, Wittman says that he’s never seen stress as a hindrance.
“I always call stress my rocket fuel,” Wittman tells Business Insider. “For me, it always makes me better, it makes me perform better. I can’t get enough of it. I’m like a stress junkie.”
Wittman says that stress is a normal reaction to certain situations, but some people sabotage themselves by actively stressing about future, hypothetical scenarios.
“You have all this imaginary stuff built up,” Wittman says. “It’s really like that in the corporate culture. We’re afraid to make mistakes because — why? I don’t even know. It’s all in our head.”
He says that instead of allowing stress to hinder you, it’s better to acknowledge how you feel and work through it — or even harness the emotion to help you focus and strategize.
Business Insider previously reported that TED speaker and Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal is also a major proponent of the benefits of stress. McGonigal has said that, not only is feeling stressed natural, but it can improve focus and help people deal with obstacles.
Wittman’s top tip for beating stress is to seek out non-threatening situations that you find stressful. He gave the example of driving a car. Some people — especially new or inexperienced drivers — find driving very stressful. Most people, however, don’t have a problem getting behind the wheel.
“Stress is a truth,” Wittman says. “It’s not a fact. It’s all in your perception. If you could change your perception, if you could look at it differently, then you could change the stress factor. Stress and all, it’s just like beauty. It’s in the eye of the beholder.”
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