Infographic: When Is Stress at Work a Good Thing?

Shaunacy Ferro
Bryan College
Bryan College / Bryan College

Stress is a serious issue for the workplace. Of the 3068 adults interviewed for a study by the American Psychological Association in 2014, 60 percent reported being stressed out by work. Across the pond, the British government estimates that 43 percent of sick days in the UK can be attributed to stress. 

But while stress can be a major health concern, it’s not ideal to be super relaxed at work, either. If things aren’t challenging enough to stimulate you, you’ll get bored and start slacking off.

A new infographic (created by Tennessee’s Bryan College) explores the fine distinction between boredom, healthy stress, and unhealthy stress using a classic psychology principle called the Yerkes-Dodson Law. Based on a 1908 study on mental arousal in rats, the principle states that mild stress can spur us on to greater productivity, but too much stress can cause us to become overstimulated and get burnt out, becoming unable to complete our tasks. 

See for yourself. Do you fall within the productive “eustress” range? If not, you may need to find a better work-life balance or take on a few more challenging projects at the office.