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Updated: Sep 17, 2021

Have you ever noticed how our mood affects productivity? Can optimal levels of anxiety enhance performance? According to Yerkes-Dodson’s Performance-arousal curve, a moderate level of anxiety, also known as the optimal level of arousal, is essential for action. As it prepares the body and mind. On the other hand, if the levels of anxiety are either high or low, it can decrease performance.

Hence, the concern is not to eliminate anxiety but achieve balance.

Some of the ways to maintain this balance:

Increasing Arousal — There are times when we have a lot to do but don’t feel like doing anything. We experience a lack of attention and interest. How do you achieve optimal arousal in such a case? It’s simple, engage in activities either physical or reclining which will increase your arousal levels. For instance, exercising, running or watching a thriller movie.

Decreasing Arousal — Do you ever experience restlessness, irritability or racing thoughts? In such cases, it’s important to decrease the arousal levels and one can do so by practising deep breathing, mindfulness or guided imagery.

Break the loop of self-fulfilling prophecy — It is a process in which our negative expectations about someone or something lead to the actions which make these expectations come true. For instance, imagine there is a presentation tomorrow, you are so concerned about not performing well that you procrastinate your preparation. This in turn leads to increased anxiety levels, resulting in poor performance. Poor performance at one presentation can create anxiety about not performing well the next time as well, now, we are stuck in the loop. To avoid this from happening one should first recognize this pattern and instead of giving in to the negative thoughts, use the arousal and work towards the goals.

If you recognise a pattern of either constant low mood or constant heightened anxiety levels you may consider talking to a professional. At ManoShala we have experts to assist you in managing such anxious thoughts or low mood.


Muskan Gupta, Psychologist, ManoShala


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