Work and Stress

Busy stressed business womanIn case you’ve been very busy working in the past years, let’s start with a reminder: work-related stress can be a killer and that’s not an overstatement. Although some level of stress is perfectly normal, when it gets excessive it starts gnawing at your health in more ways than one. Indirectly, stress can push you to bad habits like smoking, drinking, overeating or worse, which is all risky business. More directly, excessive stress can raise your blood pressure, putting you at risk from things like heart disease and strokes. Doesn’t sound very good, does it? Actually, it sounds stressful, so here are some tips on how to take care of this problem in a final way.

Start by recognizing the fact that stress is a condition and it has symptoms. These include palpitations, problems with sleep, a feeling of exhaustion, and all sorts of other physical manifestations, from headaches to teeth grinding. Stress also affects your behavior and overall state of mind. It interferes with your ability to concentrate, it dampens your creativity and it could even make you lose your sense of humor. All in all, not something to joke about.

Once you’ve realized that, here’s how you deal with it. Start by admitting to yourself that you’re not superhuman and you actually don’t need to take on as much work as is given you, regardless of the rewards, material or otherwise. What’s the use of a promotion or a raise, if in the process of getting them, you’ve ruined your health? Get used to the idea that you can say no, says life coach Suzy Greaves. With a hectic everyday schedule it’s very easy to forget that you have a choice in everything you do, easy but very wrong. Getting used to the idea that it’s up to you to decide how much pressure you can take can do wonders for your self-confidence, by the way. It sounds easier said than done, granted, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Plus, it’ll only get easier with time.

Look at it this way: you take on all that your boss throws your way, you get stressed, you get worse at your job, you take on more work to compensate for the poor performance. It’s a vicious circle where you get the opposite of what you thought you would by overburdening yourself. What’s the point? Sit down and identify everything that stresses you out. Decide which of these things you can change, such as getting rid of the tasks you hate doing the most, and list the ones you have no control over. Deciding what amount of work-related stress you can handle is up to you, no one else can make this decision for you. So, think about what you can live with in order to do what you do in the best possible way, staying healthy in the process, and be open about it with the forces that be.

So, in the end of the day, it comes to just that — learning how to say no is the way to beat stress good and final. It takes guts, of course, but that’s nothing compared with the long-term niceties that not infrequently accompany a stress-related breakdown. What’s the worst that could happen, lose your job? Well, would you rather have a stroke caused by stress-related excessive eating and drinking at 45? There is also a hypothesis that stress is a factor in tumor development, so think again — are you really sure there’s no way you can say no to that new, extra project your boss has thrown your way?