Although some stress is needed to perform, an overdose of stress negatively influences performance.
Chronic stress not only negatively influences performance, it is a silent killer. Research shows that the presence of chronic stress puts you at risk for a number of serious health problems such as heart disease, digestive problems, sleep disorders, anxiety and depression.
The physiology of stress
Stress enables the organism to react adequately to external signals, like threats. An external signal triggers a response that puts the body in a fight-flight mode by a series of hormonal excretions of cortisol and adrenalin. When the threat subsides, these hormone levels usually normalize. In chronic stress they don’t and, as a short term effect hinder performance and in the long run, damage your body.
Managing stress levels is therefore extremely important. A number of strategies can be used, some of them quite straightforward:
- Learn how to manage workload.
- Practise relaxation techniques.
- Learn how to let go of negative and stressful thinking
- Follow a healthy diet. For instance: a lot of people drink alcohol when feeling stressed, but this gives only short term relief and makes things worse the day after.
- Exercise lowers stress levels and increases your ability to cope with it.