Updated: Aug 2
Work Related Stress. It's like the unwelcome in-law of the professional world, showing up uninvited, Trying to lend a hand, and yet, often overstaying its welcome.
In this first of five posts on stress at work, we'll look at understanding our stress. This post explores work-related stress, the common sources (and even a seldom talked about source) of work-related stress, and how it can come show up in your behavior and health.
Let's face it, we've all been there. The deadlines, the pressure, the endless cups of coffee, and that feeling that there aren't enough hours in the day.
Stress, in its essence, is not as terrible as we often make it out to be. It's our body's natural response to challenging situations, designed to help us survive and thrive. When confronted with a high-stakes presentation or a crucial client meeting, stress kicks in to keep us alert and focused. But the problem arises when stress becomes chronic when it's no longer just the occasional heart palpitation before a meeting but an incessant drumming in our chest.
Stress and burnout are often used interchangeably, but they're not the same thing. Stress is characterized by over-engagement, excessive amounts of energy, and your desire to do more.
Burnout, on the other hand, is exhaustion, disengagement, and a loss of motivation. It often leads to detachment and depression.
Work stress in small doses can be a good thing, but when it is prolonged neglected, and allowed to run unbounded, the result can be burnout.
You may unwittingly seek out stressful situations to harness your motivation, energy, and focus.
And let's face it: in today's world of work, where emails follow you home like a lost puppy and 'doing more with less' is the mantra of every organization, work-related stress is increasingly becoming the rule rather than the exception. Plus, because it can be a powerful motivator, you may unwittingly seek it out. Understanding and managing this career-stopping, silent productivity killer is critical.
Causes of Work-Related Stress vary
Work-related stress can stem from various sources – a heavy workload, long hours, perceived job insecurity, conflicts with colleagues or bosses, lack of autonomy, or the feeling of being undervalued are some of the more common reasons people self-identify. But there are others that are uniquely yours.
It's like a buffet, but instead of picking what you like, you're served a platter of everything that you love at the moment but leaves you feeling terrible later.
Chronic stress can manifest in various health issues, from headaches and sleep disorders to more serious conditions like cardiovascular diseases and mental health problems making the impact much greater than your work life.
But here's the good news - once you understand your stress, you’re halfway to managing it. We'll explore how to do just that in our upcoming posts.
My goal is to help people thrive at work and in life. Part of doing that is to make sure to keep stress out of the driver's seat in your work-life journey. So buckle up and stay tuned! We've got plenty of tools and tips to help you navigate this winding road with ease.
To be continued...And in the meantime, If you’d like some quick resources for managing stress at work, check out the self-care at work video series.