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How Do Stress And Anger Affect Your Performance?

How do stress and anger affect your performance? A study recently by Essex University has been looking at what your ideal optimal emotion is and connected it to performance.

Overall it showed that although anxiety and anger have been perceived as negative emotions, they can be a determinant of success. This is because both emotions can result in higher levels of energy, similar to hope and enjoyment.

Think about how stress and anger can kick-start you into action. Driving you forward, sometimes at speed towards an outcome. Some people NEED these emotions to help them get started or move quickly.

However, there is a negative side to these emotions. There has been much research into the effects on health negative emotions can have. Stress has been shown to affect blood pressure, heart disease and can even have an effect on hair colour turning people grey early. Research here from the University of Columbia showed that prolonged stress was associated with muscle tension, digestive problems, headaches, weight gain or loss, trouble sleeping, heart disease, susceptibility to cancer, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Study leader Professor Reinhard Pekrun, from Essex’s Department of Psychology, said:

“Although the model might seem abstract at first sight, it shows how achievement emotions relate to critically important parts of our lives and can determine how we perform in job interviews, tests, and other stressful situations. Interestingly we found feelings like anxiety and anger can sometimes motivate us more than enjoyment or relaxation. However, despite its energizing powers, the knife edge of anxiety can lead to mental health issues, undermine the functioning of the immune system, and lead to a drop in performance in the long run. Overall hope was the healthiest and best way to spark success and promote long-term happiness. Failure and struggle as such don’t define one’s future, it is the perception of failures that has a strong effect on emotional responses.”

This research demonstrated that the most important success emotion is hope. The study showed that hope with a positive outlook and incorporating some control, was a major healthy driver to success. This led to people seeking out and enjoying learning and also having pride in their accomplishments in a much more positive way.

Are you willing to trade the long-term health issues for success or do you want to ensure you can be successful and healthy in the long term?

So, how do you take these negative emotions and convert them into a healthier emotion like hope? Here is a guide to help you learn how.

Remember the effect the negative emotion will have and make a decision about what you want

You may feel the anger or anxiety and need to allow it to go through you to initiate action. You may decide you want to sit with the emotion as you need the release it might give you. However, think about if you are willing to let these emotions have a longer-term effect on your health. Then you may want to feel differently and move towards another emotion. Also, think about how the emotion may affect your cognitive function/problem-solving and reasoning ability and the outcome of your actions/ behaviours.

Remember - this is YOUR moment of choice

In coaching, we talk about moments of choice. Where you make a conscious choice to move towards your desired behaviour/ outcome/ goal. If you choose to move towards hope or another emotion here are some actions to take. Some or all of them will help you move consciously and unconsciously/subconsciously towards a better outcome and a different mindset.

Write down your emotional goal/ desired outcome

Affirming what you want and your direction along with your goal via writing it down can really make a difference. Write down what your most positive outcome looks like, sounds like, feels like. This can make it more real and you can also read it back to remind you of the potential positive outcomes changing your emotion to hope can have.

Say what you want out loud

Saying the emotion you want or verbalising an outcome can help. For example:

“I will be calm and I will reach my goal” or “This will be ok and I know it will work”

Some people just repeat a word like “calm” or “hope”. Telling yourself you can and will move towards your positive emotion will help. This can also help silence the inner critic or angry side of your personality which is driving you forward. Driving you with positive emotion as an alternative.

Visualise your positive outcome with a calmer more hopeful outlook

Take time on a daily basis, even if it is only for 5-10 minutes, to close your eyes, focus on taking 10 deep breaths, relax, head to toe and then visualise your outcome feeling your new emotion. Calmness and hopefulness. Visualise your positive, successful outcome. See it, feel it hear it. This will also help you unconsciously change your emotion and also move towards success in a healthier way.

Choose an accountability partner to help you

Having someone you can speak to our your achievements or where you could have improved can help you stick to your emotional goals. You need to choose someone you trust and who will be honest and unbiased to help you. Tell them your goal and talk to them about your triumphs, challenges and how you want to change your outcomes. Make this a regular agenda meeting to ensure you manage both people’s expectations.

Finally, make the choice to follow some or all of the steps above. Following all of the above steps will help you move towards, more resourceful emotions, and a healthier long-term solution for high performance and success.

What is stopping you from getting started today?

Caroline Langston is the Co-Founder of Successful Consultants Ltd, an Executive, Personal and Career Development Coaching company in Hong Kong and New York. Caroline is dedicated to coaching people for performance success, wellness and happiness in their careers and lives. She is degree qualified with a Certificate in Professional Coaching Mastery. She is also a Professional Certified Accredited Coach (International Coaching Federation), has a Certificate in Team Coaching from the EMCC and further certifications in Neuro Linguistic Programming at Master Practitioner and Coach level.   

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