In our last blog article on Re-Thinking the Great Resignation of 2022, we highlighted the impact of transformative experiences on decision-making and problem-solving. Another significant element during the COVID-19 pandemic era is the chronic presence of stress and uncertainty in our daily lives. Although the origin of our pressure and tension differs, a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) determined that stress rose during the pandemic and impacted decision making. This blog article discusses how stress affects our ability to work and how we can remain effective with these obstacles.
People often learn better under acute stress (Smeets et al., 2007); a little cortisol can be useful. However, retrieving memories is impaired twenty minutes after a stressor. Peak cortisol levels impair our ability to remember and recall information (Schwabe and Wolf 2014). In other words, chronic stress negatively impacts memory functioning. Furthermore, chronic stress impairs our motivation for reward (Kleen et al., 2006); thus, disrupting our innate propensities for alleviating and coping with stress.
With pandemic stress negatively impacting memory, it is no wonder that people with fewer resources and coping skills are having trouble making decisions. The APA pandemic stress survey discovered that Millennials and Gen-Z people find decision-making more difficult. Our previous blog article discussed that prolonged COVID-19 symptoms and other mental health concerns further limit the bandwidth for decision-making.
How do we increase our bandwidth?
The obvious answer is decreasing our stressors and improving our reaction to stress. The APA provides practical steps to take to manage stress. Self-care and our self-belief are meaningful for combating the negative effects of stress, too (Czekalla et al., 2021). Although social media makes self-care a billion-dollar industry, even using your favorite pen at work is a form of self-care. However, working on ourselves will not reverse the effect of the pandemic on our lives. We need to adapt and update. Whether your company is busier because of the pandemic or if you had to change jobs, roll with it.
What is in your immediate sphere of control?
We make decisions and must recall a large amount of information daily. Perhaps you can streamline processes in your workflow to decrease the number of decisions you have to make. For example, using one software program for all your Quality Assurance tracking is more efficient and minimizes distractions, mistakes, and decisions. Minimizing how many programs you need to open for a task and eliminating the mental processing required to switch between programs increases your cognitive bandwidth.
What is in your area of influence?
Maybe you are not in a purchasing role for time-saving, productivity-increasing software. Perhaps you don’t have the power to hire people to validate new software. These obstacles are both in your area of influence. Looking at barriers this way helps you find appropriate options. If you are not in a purchasing role, try a free demo and show the usefulness to someone with purchasing control. Not able to make hiring changes or pull people off projects to validate new software? Find software that is pre-validated and in full compliance with regulatory agencies.
What is not in your locus of control?
Government regulations are usually not in our locus of control unless that is your specific field. However, we can find our area of influence, such as being ready for any regulatory changes, by utilizing software that includes updates and re-validations with minimum downtime.
PSC® is a life science solutions partner. Together, our professional services and software options exist to help you increase productivity and decrease errors with attention to regulatory compliance. PSC Software® has tiered options for Quality Assurance and Compliance management. Track inspections and audits or maintain a complete electronic Quality Management System with PSC Software®. To compare the Inspection Management Software options, read our blog comparing AuditUtopia® and ACE® Inspection. Find out more by attending a free webinar led by our subject matter expert. Contact our sales team for more information on ACE® or AuditUtopia®!
Written By: Crystal McClain, Ph.D.
Czekalla, N., Stierand, J., Stolz, D. S., Mayer, A. V., Voges, J. F., Rademacher, L., … & Müller-Pinzler, L. (2021). Self-beneficial belief updating as a coping mechanism for stress-induced negative affect. Scientific reports, 11(1), 1-13. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-96264-0
Kleen, J. K., Sitomer, M. T., Killeen, P. R., & Conrad, C. D. (2006). Chronic stress impairs spatial memory and motivation for reward without disrupting motor ability and motivation to explore. Behavioral neuroscience, 120(4), 842. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1578508/
Schwabe, L., & Wolf, O. T. (2014). Timing matters: temporal dynamics of stress effects on memory retrieval. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 14(3), 1041-1048. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24492994/
Smeets, T., Giesbrecht, T., Jelicic, M., & Merckelbach, H. L. G. J. (2007). Context-dependent enhancement of declarative memory performance following acute psychosocial stress. Biological psychology, 76(1-2), 116-123. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17689852/
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