Stress can be positive...
6th October, 2010
The pressures and demands that may cause stress can be positive in their effect. Stress (at the right amount) causes a release of adrenaline, the fight – or –fight chemical, in our body. One example of this is where sportsmen and women flood their bodies with adrenaline to power an explosive performance. Adrenaline helps us perform better by concentrating on our task. Another example is where deadlines are used to motivate people who seem bored or unmotivated.
Pressure & Performance
The relationship between pressure and performance is explained in one of the oldest and most important ideas in stress management, the “Inverted-U” relationship between pressure and performance (see diagram). The Inverted-U relationship focuses on people’s performance of a task.
The left hand side of the graph is easy to explain: when there is very little pressure on us to carry out an important task, there is little incentive for us to focus energy and attention on it. This is particularly the case when there may be other, more urgent, or more interesting, tasks competing for attention.
As pressure on us increases, we enter the “area of best performance”. Here, we are able to focus on the task and perform well – there is enough pressure on us to focus our attention but not so much that it disrupts our performance.
The right hand side of the graph, represents work situations jobs, in which our stress responses causes our performance to suffer. This level of stress causes us to blank and forget things. A calm, rational, controlled and sensitive approach is usually called for in dealing with most difficult problems at work. When we are stressed to this level we also tend to become aggressive or depressed and our social inter-relationships are just too complex not to be damaged by an aggressive approach.
This means that it is up to us to keep our stress levels at the 'area of best performance', in order to perform at our best.
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