The Effects of Stress on your mind,
Productivity and bottom line

Stress. As an executive, small business owner, or entrepreneur, it’s probably something you’re well acquainted with. Combine the hectic day-to-day responsibilities of the modern business decision maker, the normal personal issues we all face, and the prospect of maintaining any semblance of a life work balance – and you get the recipe for an extremely stressful lifestyle.

The biological and mental effects that stress causes directly play into every single decision we make, how well we do our jobs, and ultimately, how successful our companies are. As a result, it’s important that every business owner and executive understands exactly what stress really is, why we feel it, and how it affects us. After all, only once we truly understand something, can we begin to deal with it.

What is stress, really?

Naturally, you can probably already describe what the physical symptoms of stress are, and what they feel like. Tight, aching muscles. Headaches. Sleeplessness. Moodiness and emotional instability. Difficulty making decisions. The list goes on…however; very few of us ever stop to think what causes these symptoms, and why we feel them.

Whenever we’re faced with a critical decision that our brain registers as important to our short term or continued well-being, which in modern times can very well be work-related, our bodies trigger what is commonly referred to as a “flight or fight response”. This response causes our nervous system to release a number of chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol, which provide a temporary boost to our situational awareness, and help us think faster and more clearly. They also help temporarily heighten our physical abilities – such as muscle strength and reaction times – though those probably won’t help you much in the business environment.

So, stress isn’t bad?stress and productivity with donald wong

It’s a common perception that stress is always a bad thing, so the statement in my previous paragraph: “provide a temporary boost to our situational awareness, and help us think faster and more clearly”, might have thrown you for a bit of a proverbial loop. In small doses, stress can be a great thing. It’s the body’s natural reaction to difficult and important situations, and is designed to help increase both key mental and physical functions in the short term. When the body becomes “stressed” occasionally or at reasonable levels, it can without a doubt have a positive effect on our decision-making, amount of work we can get done, and results.

However, like most biological processes, there are some less than positive side effects as well. The chemicals the brain releases during the “fight or flight response” causes your muscles to tighten up, as if they were preparing for intense physical labor. It eliminates hunger, even if they body needs nourishment, and can lead to difficulty sleeping. They also temporarily lower the importance, and amount of energy, the body places on the immune system – as the body tries to prepare itself for the immediate situation at hand, as opposed to maintaining itself mid-to-long term.

And, if there’s too much of it, the consequences can be dire…

If the body is constantly in a “stressed” state, these negative side effects can quickly outweigh the positives that stress can provide. Unfortunately, with the increasingly fast paced nature of the business world, lack of life work balance, and the issues in our personal lives, that’s often a reality. It can often seem like there is always something important to get done or weighing on us, whether it be family, personal, or work related – which can all trigger the body's stress response.

If applied over a significant period of time, the negative side effects of stress can become downright debilitating. A lack of sleep, appetite, and weakened immune system can very easily lead to illness, both temporary and chronic. A lack of good rest can also lead to a severe – albeit temporary – diminished capacity for critical thought and keen decision-making. Prolonged tightening of the muscles can lead to chronic headaches, due to increased pressure on areas of the spine. In extreme cases, these symptoms can even come together to decrease your overall mood, cause depression, and even lead to “occupational burnout”, which makes it extremely difficult to do even the smallest tasks.

With this in mind, unmanaged stress cannot only directly decrease your overall level of job and personal satisfaction, but very logically make you a much less productive decision maker for your company. If you hope to run your business as well as you can, it’s crucial that you can identify when your body is starting to feel the effects of a prolonged state of stress, and do what you can to help remove yourself from those situations. Granted, that’s often much easier said than done. However, always striving to maintain that ever elusive life work balance can go a long way. These stress reduction tips designed directly for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and small business owners can help too…

If you are stressed out at times and it’s impacting your business growth and productivity, then take our quiz. We’ve developed a FREE 2 minute quiz that pinpoints exactly what you need to work on in YOUR life to be your most productive at all times. Click here, and within minutes you'll know more about what's been holding you back (and how to quickly fix it) than you would after reading the top productivity books on the market today...

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