I recently ran a corporate workshop and began by asking what the group thought stress was. The replies were:
- Can’t concentrate
This confirmed that many people still assume that stress is bad and is equivalent to anxiety and depression. In truth, stress is neither.
1. Anxiety and depression are mental health issues and require treatment.
2. Stress is part of normal life and, most of the time, can be dealt with by changing thoughts, behaviour and lifestyle. There is a tipping point where stress becomes anxiety and/or depression and needs treatment.
Click here – Stress Graph to see what the graph looks like.
Other common beliefs that increase stress at work are that hard work is not good, relaxation and retirement are the ideal and pain is terrible.
It will help your stress levels if you “think right”. Here are some helpful, realistic thoughts that will lower your stress.
- Hard work and success go together. Nobody was successful by sitting back and waiting for it to happen on its own.
- Hard work is good for you. Forget the advertising campaigns that holidays and retirement and relaxation are the ultimate. Working hard has been shown to increase happiness levels, lower depression and anxiety, keep the mind active, improve self-esteem and foster independence.
- People who train for a marathon do not whinge. They accept it will be tiring, sometimes uncomfortable, and occasionally painful. But they are excited to push themselves to the limit and keep their eye on the goal. This is a good analogy of how to think about work.
- A little bit of pain is not the end of the world. Expect the pain to be part of the process. What pain means in your job will be unique to you. It may mean having to work longer hours for a few months, or having to focus longer, or doing tasks that are not that enjoyable in order to prove your worth to the company.
- When a person is training for a marathon and sprains his ankle so that it is difficult to walk, that means training needs to stop for a while and maybe the training regime needs to be modified. Analogy: Let’s say you are working hard and start developing symptoms like headache, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, then it means it is time to stop for a while and think about ways to modify your work habits.
- No decent job will be stress free.
- Stress can be beneficial. It gives you the edge, the adrenalin rush to be creative, have extra drive and more energy.