“One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.”
Maintaining high levels of productivity is an integral part of life, especially today with the ever-growing list of responsibilities everyone faces both at the office and at home. Unfortunately, chronic stress has also become more common.
Whether it’s at work or with your family, chronic stress can affect productivity in some seriously negative ways. Read on to learn about why persistent stress levels might be affecting your everyday life and keeping you from reaching your goals.
Hard to Stay Focused
One of the first mental abilities to suffer as a result of stress is your ability to concentrate on a specific topic or objective.
Stress triggers the release of many different hormones in your body, including cortisol, which weakens your immune system and affects your sleep cycle.
Stress also results in the production of adrenaline, which can make you feel more motivated at first, but leads to extreme levels of anxiety during periods of chronic stress.
As a result, it becomes more difficult to hold your attention because your body is functioning at an elevated state, meant for quick action. You end up feeling more tired. This breaks your concentration while your mind jumps to different topics as you attempt to escape thoughts causing stress, thus rendering you unable to accomplish tasks.
Lack of Motivation
Many people who suffer chronic stress also experience a major decrease in motivation, typically in regards to completing tasks that are the source of stress. For example, imagine that you need to clean out your garage to make room for a new car, but every time you set foot in the space you become overwhelmed by all the boxes and other items inside.
The seemingly daunting task of sorting through it all causes you stress, which triggers a range of emotional and physical responses in your body that tell you to avoid it in order to escape the stress.
Over time, you feel less and less motivated to take on the project. This can occur with virtually any topic, because the thought of starting the task leads to more stress and, thus, makes you less inclined to do anything.
Increase in Forgetfulness
Stress hormones have also been found to severely impair both short-term and long-term memory.
According to WebMD, one study found that exposure to chronic stress impaired participants’ recall ability, which made it more difficult to complete activities that involved remembering specific information.
Forgetfulness can greatly hinder productivity in many different ways–not just because working harder to remember details can result in spending more time on projects; it may cause you to forget about deadlines, upcoming meetings or specific instructions.
In turn, this can lead to wasting time focusing on the wrong subjects as well as spending more time trying to make up for any details or components forgotten.
Increased Feelings of Futility
Excessive stress not only affects your physical ability to produce work or attain results on an activity, but can also affect the way you perceive your work overall.
When you experience stress on a consistent basis, you may feel that you are constantly rushing to comply with deadlines and the demands of others, stimulated by the stress hormones.
Feeling the pressure to complete a project but being unable to do so because of the other ways stress impacts productivity can cause you to feel like there’s no point in trying harder to succeed. The constant presence of stress makes you feel as if you are never going to be able to do enough to get rid of it.
As such, you don’t try as hard and your overall output decreases because you don’t see the appropriate benefits of your efforts.
Breaking the Vicious Cycle
Once you are locked into the cycle of chronic stress, it can feel very counterintuitive to slow down. However, in order to break the cycle, you must find a way to reevaluate the factors that are contributing to keeping you stressed. It is necessary to pause your need to be productive and to begin to look through a lens of curiosity about what is perpetuating your chronic stress.
Often times we may think that we have no choice and the factors influencing us are out of our control. We may feel like victims of circumstance and decide that there is no possibility of change. However, this is rarely the case. Internal patterns of thoughts and beliefs are often the culprits influencing our feeling stuck and hopeless in whatever our current situation may be. If we can learn how these thoughts and beliefs are operating behind the scenes, we discover that we have much more power and choice than we thought.
Chronic stress can feel like a runaway train; if you don’t take control of it, at some point it is going to run off the tracks. You may end up needing to pull the emergency stop switch if you can’t find another way off of the train. In the end, you will be glad you did!
To learn more about how to change the cycle of chronic stress in your life join Connected Heart and learn how to create more joy and relaxation in your life.
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Wendy and Robin