Welcome to the Confident Careerist Podcast for professionals just like you who place a high value on their career development and strive for success while also seeking work-life balance.
My name is Teena Evert and I am delighted to be your host. I’m a careerist myself and a career development, leadership and life coach. I love what I do and I hope that you enjoy the creation of this podcast and allow it to be an important tool in your toolbox that will help you to accelerate your success, gain greater confidence and happiness in your work-life.
Today I’m talking about STRESS. Stress affects people’s health, well-being and workplace performance. It’s a big deal.
What is stress?
According to Oxford Dictionaries, stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, states that stress is the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources or needs of the worker.
Did you know?
► Up to 90% of all medical visits are stress-related
► Chronic stress costs the US Business Economy approximately 600 billion a year
► Your perception of stress radically alters your physiological reaction to it.
It’s not stress that kills us, it’s our reaction to it. – Hans Selye ‘father of stress research’
Unmanaged stress can lead to burnout
Chronic work stress and an inability to manage it can lead to job burnout. Burnout is a challenge for many people in the workforce, particularly in healthcare. Many organizations are responding to burnout by offering support services to increase employee resilience. And although this is much needed, this approach falls short – because, most organizations are not engaged in addressing the root cause of burnout.
The root cause can be a toxic work environment that consists of work overload, time pressured and unreasonable deadlines, lack of control, low levels of trust and communication challenges that make it hard to understand leadership’s decisions, conflicting values, high performance expectations and low moral.
Resilience training, wellness programs and individual coaching are strategies that employees can participate in to prevent and/or recover from job burnout. Although, if the root cause of burnout is driven by poor management systems of the organization, then a more holistic approach would address this as well.
Let’s come back to stress and take a closer look at its impact in the workplace, as well as some strategies to help minimize extreme stress and burnout.
Stressed at work?
You’re not alone. In the US, 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress and 48% feel their stress has increased over the past 5 years.
The most common workplace stressors are:
► Demands, Can you cope?
► Control, Do you have a say?
► Recognition, Are you rewarded properly?
► Change, Are you supported?
► Wellbeing, Are you safe?
► Support, Do you have it?
We can’t reach our full potential and peak performance at work without some stress, let’s call it stimulation. However, too much stress leads to individual burnout and organizational collapse. Problems arise when everyday work stimulation turns into mismanaged stress and leads to feeling more pressure and anxiety.
There are ways to use the right amount of stress to your advantage at work as long as you are able to regulate your response to stressors in a way that makes you stronger rather than weaker. A good level of challenge is essential for innovation and development, yet too much of a challenge or too many can cause all systems to break down to the point of failure.
3 keys to managing stress and building resilience
(1) Learn how YOU react to stress. What is stressful for you may not be for others. Increase your self-awareness and recognize the impact of your personality traits and characteristics. For example, you might find it stressful when you have to meet new people, whereas some people thrive in such a situation. If different types of people have different causes of stress, it follows that people need different coping techniques.
Knowing how you experience stress can help you find the most effective methods to relax and there is no single best way to get there – each of us has our own path. Not everyone will benefit from body-focused relaxers like yoga, just as meditation may not be the most effective way to fight stress for each person. – Daniel Goleman
(2) Identify the source of the stress and develop coping techniques that work for you. Work on building resilience against chronic stress by learning how to better prepare for each day. This will help you solve problems as they arise, so they don’t pile up and bury you. Create short-term goals and take action proactively.
(3) Talk to others. Share your stress triggers and reactions so you can provide mutual support. Do your best to reduce unnecessary work tasks and restore work-life balance.
The American Psychological Association recommends the following suggestions for things you can do now to manage your stress:
📌 Seek support through family and friends
📌 Nurture a positive view of yourself
📌 Keep things in perspective
📌 Look for opportunities for self-discovery
📌 Take decisive actions to act on adverse situations
📌 Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems
📌 Do things you enjoy and find relaxing
📌 Maintain a hopeful outlook
📌 Take regular exercise
📌 Accept that change is a part of living
📌 Develop realistic goals and move towards them
Can work stress influence health?
Our health and wellbeing can be influenced by work, both positively and negatively.
Work can provide a goal and meaning in life. It can give structure and content to our day, week, year, and life. It may offer us identity, self-respect, social support, and material rewards.
This is likely to happen when work demands are optimal, when we are allowed to exercise a reasonable degree of autonomy, and when the culture and climate of the work organization is friendly and supportive. If this is so, work can be one of the most important health-promoting factors in life!
If however, work conditions are characterized by the opposite attributes, they are likely to cause or accelerate ill health in the long run or trigger its symptoms. When we are exposed to these or related stressors, most of us experience emotional reactions such as anxiety, depression, uneasiness, restlessness, or fatigue.
Stress at work can also influence our behaviors, making some of us start smoking more, or overeating, seeking comfort in alcohol or taking unnecessary risks at work or in traffic. Many of these behaviors can lead to disease and premature death. Suicide is one of many examples.
We also react physiologically, with our internal organs. When we feel unjustly criticized by our supervisor, our blood pressure may increase; we may experience increased or irregular heart rate, or muscular tension, with subsequent pain in the neck, head, and shoulders, or dryness of our throat and mouth, or heartburn because of overproduction of acid gastric juice.
All of these stress reactions can make us suffer, become ill, and even die – through diseases of the heart and blood vessels, or cancer (from smoking too much, or eating too much fatty food and too little nutritional fiber).
In this way, virtually every aspect of work-related health and disease can be influenced. This can also be mediated through emotional and or cognitive misinterpretation of conditions of work as threatening, even when they are not, and or trivial symptoms and signs occurring in one’s own body as manifestations of serious disease.
All this can lead to a wide variety of disorders, diseases, loss of wellbeing, and loss of productivity.
On one hand stress is inevitable. What is not inevitable is prolonged, recurrent and intense stress. Healthy stress is more of a challenge than a burden and is characterized by health, productivity, vitality, and wellbeing, on both the individual and organizational level.
On the other hand, distressful consequences can be psychological, behavioral or physiological. And all can lead to decreased occupational health and safety affecting both individuals and organizations.
Let’s reflect back on The Confident Careerist Podcast’s intention for The first month of this new year and that is to Create a FRESH Start!
You can start a new year in a completely new and different way after perhaps being unsuccessful in certain areas of your life. It’s an opportunity for you to start-off with the intention to invest in your success by putting a plan in place to best manage your stress and build your resilience to improve your health and wellbeing at work.
To best manage your stress and build resilience
- Learn how you react to stress through self-awareness.
- Identify the source of the stress and develop coping techniques that work for you.
- Talk to others and provide mutual support.