The Stress curve is a graphical representation of how stress can affect someone.

It uses a curved line to show how our performance level can rise, peak and fall as demands increase. It shows how some stress can help us work at our best but also what happens when demands become too much.

If you have low demands on your time you might experience boredom and a lack of motivation resulting in a low performance level. You’re not feeling stressed, but you’re not working well either.

As demands or challenges increase, the line goes up. You feel busier and more motivated.

If demands continue to increase you can eventually find yourself at the top of the curve. You’re coping with your demands and feel fulfilled by the challenges. You’re performing at your best.

Unfortuntely, there’s a point where demands can get too much and too stressful and your performance can start to decline. Some demands are now not being met.

At this point you can start to feel exhausted, anxious and overwhelmed. You might experience burnt out, especially if the demands do not decrease.

The Stress curve applies to any demands or challenges in our life, at work and outside of work. Studying, relationships, volunteering, money and health issues, housing or any life events – big or small – can all put demands on us.