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How Does Stress Affect Productivity?


You might be wondering, “How does stress affect productivity?†After all, you feel like you’re getting it all done.  

But you’re short with people and your family may be complaining that you’re not spending enough time with them.

Your partner might feel less close to you. 

Your friends and co-workers might be missing your wit and sense of humor. 

However, you know that if you let up and don’t keep all of the balls in the air, it will all start to crumble.  

Does that sound familiar?

You know something’s missing but you don’t know how to turn it off because if you do drop one of those balls, other things will fall apart. You may feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.  

Most busy, high-achievers feel this way, and they’ve likely been here before, and crashed and burned each time.  

You‘ve probably been here before, too. 

Remember when you were going and going and something happened (sickness, fender bender, etc) that tripped you up or caused you to stop dead in your tracks? 

Or maybe you got a wakeup call from a spouse, or your kids were having issues and you didn’t even notice it happening, etc 

You may think that stress is what keeps you being productive; however, studies show that stress may affect your reception and perception of the things around you, including your ability to learn, make decisions, pay attention, and use judgement. 

Even though you might think you are doing just fine and getting a lot done, people around you can see right through that! 

How Does Stress Affect Productivity? 

Living with stress will ultimately backfire for your productivity. 

It will leave you feeling like a failure and like you can’t do anything right! It’s a constant battle of trying to get in front of things instead of always working from behind the 8-ball and playing a never-ending game of catch-up. 

Stress is much more than a feeling of overwhelm and being overburdened with everything going on in your life. In fact, stress can cause structural changes to your brain by decreasing its weight, which can affect your memory and cognition. 

Stress may also activate your central neurotransmitter and neuropeptide systems, autonomic nervous system, and the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. This leads to changes in your ability to process data. Activation of these systems may also result in the release of glucocorticosteroids, which can cause long-term cognition and processing effects. 

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Research shows that chronic stress can lead to adrenal fatigue. There are three stages of adrenal fatigue, and many people who feel like they perform just fine under stress are experiencing stages one (alarm) and two (resistance).  

During stage one, your body is in an active stress response. Your cortisol levels are elevated, whether you realize it or not. Symptoms include being “wired yet tired,†heart palpations, nervousness, and anxiety.  

Stage two occurs when cortisol levels have been elevated for an extended period of time. Under normal circumstances, cortisol has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.  

However, when cortisol levels are continuously high without any relief, it has a detrimental effect on the body and can increase the risk of obesity, thyroid and adrenal dysfunction, fatigue, depression, and insomnia. This is why stress management is so important.  

Stress Management Tips 

How does stress affect productivity for you? Do you find it easier to tackle the day as it comes or do you like to be more organized? 

Stress management may look different to you than it does someone else. You might need to take a look at your daily duties and schedule them out on a calendar. This is a great way to stay one step ahead of stress so that it doesn’t affect your productivity. 

If a calendar isn’t your thing, then consider seeking help with managing your tasks. Sometimes it helps to have someone on the outside looking in and making suggestions.  

Turning something like this around can seem almost insurmountable, but before life finds a way to force you to stop, let’s get you to choose it so that you can thrive in productivity, thrive in balance, and ultimately create the life that you desire! 

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