You might be wondering, “How does stress impact productivity?” We get it; you feel like you’re managing everything just fine. But, you’ve probably noticed that you’re becoming a little short with people, and your loved ones are expressing their need for more of your time. Your partner might feel a bit distant, and your friends and co-workers miss your wit and sense of humor.
However, we understand that you’re juggling many responsibilities, and the thought of letting even one ball drop can be quite unsettling. Does this sound familiar to you?
You might sense that something is amiss, but it’s challenging to find a way to ease up because you’re concerned that if you do, things might start to unravel. It can feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.
You’re not alone in this struggle. Many high-achievers experience these feelings, and they’ve likely been in your shoes, stumbling and feeling overwhelmed time and again.
You, too, may recall those moments when you were racing through life, and something unexpected, like an illness or a fender bender, brought you to a halt. Or perhaps a wake-up call from a loved one or the realization that you missed some important events in your children’s lives struck a chord.
You may believe that stress is the driving force behind your productivity, but research suggests that it can impact your perception and ability to learn, make decisions, pay attention, and exercise good judgment. Even if you feel like you’re excelling, those around you can often see through the façade.
How does stress affect productivity?
Living with ongoing stress can eventually undermine your productivity, leaving you feeling like you’re falling short in every aspect of your life. It can feel like a constant struggle to stay ahead, perpetually playing catch-up.
Stress isn’t just a feeling of being overwhelmed or overburdened; it can actually lead to structural changes in your brain, potentially affecting memory and cognitive functions.
Stress can also trigger your central neurotransmitter and neuropeptide systems, the autonomic nervous system, and the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, all of which can impact your ability to process information. This may even result in the release of glucocorticosteroids, which can have long-term effects on cognition and processing.
Research indicates that chronic stress can lead to adrenal fatigue, with three distinct stages. Many individuals who believe they’re functioning well under stress are typically in stages one (alarm) and two (resistance).
In stage one, your body is in an active stress response. Even if you don’t realize it, your cortisol levels are elevated, leading to symptoms like feeling “wired yet tired,” heart palpitations, nervousness, and anxiety.
Stage two occurs when cortisol levels remain elevated for an extended period. In normal circumstances, cortisol has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. However, when cortisol remains consistently high without relief, it can negatively impact your health, potentially increasing the risk of obesity, thyroid and adrenal dysfunction, fatigue, depression, and insomnia. This highlights the importance of stress management.
How can you manage stress effectively?
Stress management is a personal journey that may differ from person to person. It might involve organizing your daily tasks and scheduling them on a calendar to stay ahead of stress. If calendars aren’t your thing, consider seeking assistance in task management. Sometimes, an outside perspective can offer valuable insights and suggestions.
We understand that turning things around can seem like a daunting task, but before life forces you to take a break, let’s work together to make a choice that allows you to thrive in productivity, find balance, and create the life you desire. Your well-being is worth it!