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Seeking Perfection: The Pressure Cooker of Peak Performance on Mental Health

(c) VictoryLab Inc. 2018

How to Recognize When Stress is a Motivator and When it Hinders Performance

Did you know that in a 2013 study conducted by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, 48.7% of surveyed university students attended counseling for mental health concerns, and 30.3% considered attempting suicide? Additionally, research has shown that work stress is increasingly associated with depressive disorders and suicide?

We face pressure in almost every area of our lives, whether it be where we work, play or live. It’s nearly impossible to get away from it. However, it can be used to increase motivation or to portray a sense of urgency, sometimes leading to an increase in performance; but being under too much pressure can also lead to a decline in mental health, as a lot of the time it can be very hard to deal with alone.

Why it’s Important to Manage Performance Pressure

Employees feel pressure from their work responsibilities and performance expectations, athletes feel a sense of pressure every time they step on a field or court, and students feel pressure every time they take an exam, or open their grade book. Pressure is there at every end of the spectrum. That’s why it is so important to learn to manage performance pressure, because it’s part of every-day life, but it might not always be a bad thing. According to Professor Ian Robertson, stress causes an area of our brain to create a chemical called neodrenaline, and as long as the right amount of this chemical is in your brain, it allows stress to push us to perform better. That being said, it can be difficult to find the median between using stress as a motivator, or having it hinder your performance levels.

The struggle with performance pressure is one of the reasons why we at VictoryLab chose to develop our admin panel, as it can inform organizations such as sports teams, businesses, or school boards of how their team is handling the pressure. This gives organizations the opportunity to be aware of any cries for help, or how they can reduce some of that pressure that their team may be feeling.

Take Control: How to Manage Performance Pressure

Because some form of pressure may always linger, there are ways that you can manage performance pressure yourself. A good example is to know what triggers your stress. This could be things like paying a bill or taking an exam, which can’t be avoided, but identifying what causes you stress can help you be more prepared for next time those triggers pop up.

Another way to handle performance pressure is to put yourself in control. This can be

done by:

  • Creating a list of tasks that need to be done that day

  • Taking breaks when you need them

  • Setting small goals that are a cause for celebration when they’re achieved

Taking things one step at a time can help manage performance pressure; but, it’s also important to know what you can and cannot control. There are some things that you just can’t change, and accepting that fact will help reduce any unnecessary stress or pressure you feel by things that are beyond your control. Sometimes, you just can’t change the outcome, and that’s not your fault.

Of course, if you ever feel overwhelmed or concerned with the state of your mental health, it’s important to find someone to talk to, whether it be a friend, family member, coach, or a professional.

Pressure might always be there, but that doesn’t mean it has to hurt you instead of help you. Sometimes, pressure motivates us to do better, or to push ourselves further; but, if it ever becomes too much to handle, there are ways to manage it and overcome it.

What if you were able to know the performance stress levels of your team or employees? What if you were able to take that information and create programs that give your employees the support they need? To find out how, go to To subscribe to VictoryLab’s blog, click here.

(c) VictoryLab Inc. 2018

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