According to a recent release by WHO, there is a massive 25% increase in mental health prevalence globally. This is mainly attributed to the unprecedented stress caused by the pandemic, loneliness, life worries and constraints associated with support seeking behaviours.
Mental health can largely be understood as any disturbance associated with how we think, feel, behave or connect with others that can cause major dysfunction in key life areas. In most cases, the first signs are mainly internal and personal. This may be related to major changes in our regular patterns of thinking or feeling which can severely disrupt our usual mode of behaviours. When we are unable to behave in synchrony with ourselves this makes it difficult to connect with others. Lastly, the lack of connection with others can lead to a vicious cycle caused by the loss of meaningful connection, negative beliefs and an increase in the intensity of negative emotions. These factors can severely impact our performance across different fields and areas.
Some of the reasons why our mental health is important for performance have to do with our ability to concentrate, beliefs in our abilities and psychophysiological connection. The ability to maintain concentration and focus on our goals significantly increases the possibility of attaining them. However, rigid beliefs and intense negative (and sometimes even positive) emotions can direct attention away from our goals which as expected would lead to sub-optimal performance. In most cases, such beliefs and emotional intensity are associated with psychophysiological experiences based on personal history. The most common forms are fatigue, trauma and deprivation.
However, it should also be recognised that some levels of anxiety and stress are often needed for optimal performance. This is because they generate the much-needed energy frequently needed to perform which can also benefit goal-directed attention. Nonetheless, the precise levels of anxiety or stress required for optimal performance are unique to each individual, team and specific task or objective. This often requires greater consideration of genetic influence, personality traits, previous experiences and more.
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