Listicle: How to reduce work stress to a productive level

Stress: increases productivity up to a point

Stress: increases productivity up to a point


If you think that reducing stress will increase your productivity, think again. Research shows that performance actually increases with stress – but only up to a point.

When stress becomes too high, performance decreases.

If you’re experiencing elevated stress at work, here are three strategies that may help reduce it to a more productive level:

Increase control 

People tend to believe that high-level positions bring a lot of stress, but research suggests the opposite: Leaders with more responsibility experience lower stress levels than those with less on their shoulders. This is because leaders have more control over their activities.

Independent of your place in the organisational hierarchy, you may have ways to increase your sense of control – namely, by focusing on aspects of your work where you can make choices.

Find opportunities to be authentic 

People often conform to colleagues’ opinions and follow others’ agendas at work. Research suggests that this has implications for your stress level and performance. When people behave in inauthentic ways, they experience more anxiety than when they are themselves. So, try to find ways to express who you are at work.

Use rituals 

It may sound strange, but superstitious rituals can actually improve performance. Sports psychology demonstrates the benefits of preperformance routines, from improving attention and execution to increasing emotional stability and confidence.

And recent research shows that when people engage in rituals before doing high-stakes tasks, they feel less anxious and perform better. – Copyright Harvard Business Review 2016

Previously published in The Irish Times.


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