Adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, is a hormone released by the body in response to perceived threats or danger. Once released, it prepares the body for physical action (fight or flight). In the world of work it can cause stress, anxiety and poor decisions, but can be managed.

Summary by The World of Work Project

Emotional Intelligence

Adrenaline has a large role to play in our amygdala response and our emotional intelligence in the workplace. We cover these topics in our podcast on emotional intelligence, which you can listen to below.

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Adrenaline (also known as epinephrine) is a hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands (and some neurons). It plays a key role in the human’s fight or flight response processes. It does this by increasing blood flow to required areas and instituting other physiological changes (like dilating the pupils) that prepare humans for physical action.

The release of adrenaline is a key hormonal response to external activating events that humans experience. The hormonal response in turn partly shapes how humans respond to the activating events they experience.

In other words, when humans experience some form of threat or danger, they release a series of hormones that prepare them for action and help define the action that they take.

Learning More

In most modern workplaces we don’t often face physical threats. We do though face social threats which can lead to a surge in adrenaline. This often isn’t helpful. Example of threats we might face include things like receiving feedback. These types of threats can also lead to social pain, which you can learn more about in the below podcast:

The World of Work Project View

Adrenaline in the world of work is very important. When we experience challenging, threatening or stressful events at work, our bodies release adrenaline, just as they would if we faced a physical threat. As the adrenaline enters our systems we physiologically prepare to take action such as fighting or running away.

However, in the world of work, this doesn’t really help us. They threats that adrenaline prepares us to face can be overcome with physically action, but this is seldom the case in the world of work, where there are no Saber-tooth tigers…

Adrenaline in the world of work can appear due to social threats l
We’ve yet to bump into these guys in an office..

In fact, adrenaline in the world of work is often unhelpful. High levels of adrenaline often causes a sense of stress and anxiety which inhibits our ability to think rationally and act calmly. Our ability to do complex tasks that require concentration and focus diminishes. Our bodies are ready for action, but we have no physical response to actually take, so we can’t burn of the adrenaline. Instead, until the adrenaline has worn off, we remain stressed, anxious, agitated, ineffective and prone to making decisions we might later regret.

There are ways to manage adrenaline surges like this. Exercise does help to use up adrenaline and return to the body to a more balanced state. Similarly, meditation, breathing exercises, positive thinking, self-coaching and laughter can all also help. That said, this is another situation wherein prevention is better than cure.

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This article doesn’t reference any specific sources. You can find more about adrenaline in many different locations, so just look around the internet to read more.

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