Stress: Motivate or Demotivate


With the end of every school year, teens face the inevitable mountain of stress associated with finals. For some, stress can motivate them to push more and work harder. On the other hand, for some, that mountain is not climbable and they crack under the pressure.

According to a Harvard Business Review Article, written by Francesca Gino, “performance increases with physiological or mental arousal (stress) but only up to a point. When the level of stress becomes too high, performance decreases.”

The article includes a bell curve graph of productivity and stress with optimal productivity around the middle of the stress axis. According to Gino, the curve also depends on the familiarity and difficulty of the task.

While some stress can be beneficial, according to a healthline by Rachael Link, too much stress can have serious side effects on health.

One such side effect is frequent sickness. According to Link, “In one study, 61 older adults were injected with the flu vaccine. Those with chronic stress were found to have a weakened immune response to the vaccine.”

Not only can stress affect immunity, but also other aspects of mental health. “One study of 816 women with major depression found that the onset of depression was significantly associated with both acute and chronic stress,” according to Link.

Lanard Green, a employee at the HCA Midwest behavioral health center said, “[People get] too overwhelmed whether mentally, physically and emotionally to act, which is why it’s so important for everyone to be aware of their limits so they can manage their time and effort in a way that doesn’t lead to burnout.”

While stress can lead to negative outcomes, it can also be a powerful motivator.

“Stress plays a role anytime our adrenaline rushes and helps us physically push through an exercise, sports performance or environmental threat. Stress can also push you to finish your paper on time or help you remember to get your best friend a birthday gift,” Green said.

Green also said that people’s reaction to stress also depends on how they can handle adversity.

“[It is] solely dependent on if a person has the mentality of ‘I act upon the world’ v.s. ‘Things always happen to me.’ This plays a big part in whether stress will motivate or demotivate,” Green said.

Green offered some advice to teens: “Understand that everything won’t go your way and there is a lot of challenges in life but it’s not a matter of ‘if’ it’s ‘how,’” Green said.

According to, there are a few easy ways of decreasing daily stress such as decreasing intake of sugar and caffeine and making sure to stay hydrated and eat nutrient dense foods along with plenty of sleep and getting regular exercise.