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"(We are) at a time when companies lose an estimated $200 billion annually in absenteeism, subpar performance, tardiness, and workers' compensation claims related to stress…'If businesses were clever, what they would do is simply put time aside [and have] a quiet room for people to carry out a meditative behavior of their choice,' says Herbert Benson, M.D."Business Week
August 30, 2004
STRESS AND PERFORMANCE
Stress can be, and often is, beneficial. Harvard's Robert M. Yerkes, M.D. and John D. Dodson, M.D. first described the relation between stress and performance in 1908. At appropriate levels, stress increases both efficiency and performance. For example, before an athletic event, competitors involuntarily elicit the stress response. Before an examination, students exhibit increased heart rate and blood pressure. Similarly, in today's high-powered competitive environment, the stimulus of the stress response/ fight-or-flight response is often essential to success. As stress and/or anxiety increase, so do performance and efficiency.

However, this relationship does not continue indefinitely in this fashion. When situations produce excessive stress, a threshold is exceeded. This stress overload is associated with diminishing performance and efficiency. This relationship is known as the Yerkes Dodson Law.

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To learn more, contact Marilyn Wilcher at 617.991.0102 x208
or email mwilcher@mbmi.org
Stress and Performance
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Herbert Benson, MD President,
Mind Body Medical Institute and
Mind Body Medical Institute Associate Professor of Medicine,
Harvard Medical School.