How Stress Affects Your Decision Making

I’ve often said, because I believe it whole-heartedly, that we can’t make good decisions when we’re under a lot of stress. And wouldn’t you know, science has proven exactly that!

Remember that stress hormone cortisol? Well Cambridge University did a study a few years ago that proved, yet again, that stress spurs cortisol secretions. If you are stressed like a normal mammal running from a predator, cortisol helps save your life. But if you’re not running from bears and instead have chronic psychological stress, that raises cortisol levels long-term, which increases the risk of stress-related diseases.

Cambridge studied male floor traders at the London stock market. Can you guess what made their stress hormone levels rise? Poor trades? No. Losing money? No. The volatile unstable market did. This made wonderful sense, given that the two key contributors to psychological stress are lack of control and unpredictable situations. The researchers found these levels distorted the traders’ decision making. They saw that sustained stress causes shrinkage of the frontal cortex of the brain, our decision-making center!

So what does that have to do with you, you ask, since you don’t plan to trade stocks in London? Well, the study also showed how high cortisol levels influence emotions, understanding, and behavior.

I have enough trouble with high emotions, misunderstandings, and misbehavior. I need to monitor and decrease my stress in order to make better decisions. How about you?

To learn how to create wellness programs for healthier, happier, less stressed, more engaged employees, visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. Contact me today to discuss implementing this powerful program at your facility.  Interested in LeAnn Thieman’s keynote speaking, training and workshops? Email lthieman@leannthieman.com.