We have seen how in the short term, stress response increases our survival performance. In the longer term, the behavioural and physiological impacts all add up to ever decreasing performance in ALL areas of your life.

  • Your work suffers – from lack of ability to concentrate, lack of sleep, lack of motivation.
  • Your relationships suffer – from irritable responses, lack of sociability, poor personal presentation moodiness, lack of energy to participate in group activities.
  • Your home suffers – you give up caring, houses need nourishing as well.
  • Your financial performance suffers – as a direct result of work performance
  • Your sporting performance suffers – from lack of exercise and proper nutrition
  • Your self esteem suffers – feeling of guilt and lack of satisfaction are further compounded by our failure to assert ourselves when we should.

In essence, our live just snowballs out of control and to many seems irrecoverable. Fortunately this is not true. Whilst the triggering issues may take some time and professional intervention to resolve, we can integrate that resolution into the rest of our positive satisfying lives, and thereby reducing its significance.

Pressure & Performance – the Inverted U

The relationship between pressure and performance is further explained in the “Inverted-U” model used by work performance coaches and sporting coaches alike.
When there is little pressure [or stress] on us to performance any task, then performance will be low. At the other end of the curve; when there is too much pressure or stress, performance will also be low.

Hence for maximum performance in anything we do, we require a certain level of pressure.


The Inverted-U Relationships Between Stress and Performance

From a realm of “boredom” or no pressure, as pressure on us increases, we enter the zone of best performance. There is sufficient pressure to both spur us into action to start the task, as well as to help us focus our attention to complete the task.

Once we tip over this zone of best performance, the impact of stress starts eroding our capability. We hesitate to start or complete the task, preferring it just disappeared. Typcial responses include procrastination, fooling ourselves into believing it is no longer important or that something else takes precedence, or just plain hoping that someone else will do it for us.

The reality is that whilst we may temporarily put the task and its associated stresses out of our minds, its still there! And any subtle reference to it can trigger a severe stress response at an inappropriate time.

The more our performance suffers, the more new distractions, difficulties, anxieties and negative thoughts crowd our minds.

Other research has shown that stress reduces people’s ability to deal with large amounts of information. Both decision-making and creativity are impaired because people are unable to take account of all the information available. This inability accounts for the common observation that highly stressed people will persist in a course of action even when better alternatives are available. It also explains why anxious people perform best when they are put under little additional stress, while calm people may need additional pressure to produce a good performance.

Related Reading

Next: How To Manage Stress In Your Life

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