Publication

Positively manage stress and achieve better personal and professional performance

03 2015 August
Executive Education INCAE
Can we live without stress? Why can stress be positive? How to manage "bad" stress and enhance the "good"?

Emotional stimulation produces a hormone called cortisol, or colloquially "stress hormone." Cortisol activates different mechanisms in our brains that awaken the feeling of alarm, generating the energy to be creative, able to solve problems efficiently, face new challenges and have, in general, a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment.

Lack of the stress hormone leads to low levels of motivation that lead to fatigue, boredom, frustration, and lack of motivation. It is therefore necessary to consciously generate optimal levels of cortisol to stay in the positive phase of stress, called eustres by the Yerkes-Dodson researchers (see figure).

However, if we remain in permanent alert states in the long term, our productivity, instead of growing, begins to decline, leading in the long term to loss of concentration, illness and loss of self-esteem. We call this phase negative stress or distress.

How then can we stay at an optimal stimulation level?

Experts recommend generating positive incentives that produce endorphins (serotonin) during periods of intense activity (cortisol) to counteract the effect of cortisol on our brains and organisms.

Some of the serotonin generators can be achieved through meditation, exercise, or positive recognition of progress made in work or personal life. According to neuroscience researchers, walking for just 10 minutes a day produces enormous benefits, both in people's mental and physical health.

Self-confidence, the focus on finding solutions instead of identifying problems and obstacles are other sources of endorphins that maintain positive energy levels and generate greater tolerance to stress.

At the organizational level, if leaders want their employees to maintain optimal levels of performance, they have to promote cultures of recognition and carry out organizational designs that allow people to combine periods of intense activity with others in which other sides of their work are stimulated. brains, such as creativity, relationships with other people or learning new knowledge or skills that generate motivation and renewed energy.

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