Firstly, it needs to be said that a bit of stress is good for us. Helpful stress is what stretches us; makes us strive and learn new things and feel exhilarated. Stretch normally happens when our needs are being met and our innate resources are being used and developed in a healthy way. It motivates us to perform at our best. But when that stress becomes overwhelming or constant and we never get the time to rest and digest, it becomes unhealthy and it can result in exhaustion or burnout. And the result of that is often mental and / or physical ill health.
You might have been able to recognise the causes of your workplace stress by answering the questions that appeared in Part 1 of this series. If you know that a particular career is not meeting any of your needs, that will explain why you find it stressful. Sometimes, we do need to sit back and adjust, develop and modify our coping mechanisms and then things fall into place. But there are times when we have to face up to having to look for a new job that will be more fulfilling.
Other questions to ask yourself:
- Are my abilities, knowledge and skills, and those of my colleagues, being used and developed?
- Are we all in this together?
- Does management reward and motivate all of us?
- Does management consult all of us?
- Are there structures designed to benefit all of us? As well as those outside the workplace who rely on us in some way? Are these structures flexible and open to change?
- Is communication clear and does it flow in both directions?
It comes down to: can you see evidence of Creativity, Communication, Collaboration and Community.
If you have answered “No” to most of these questions, your workplace is not giving you what you need. It could even be that it is a toxic environment and there is nothing you can do about it. That might be when the only option is to seek an alternative. Failing to do so could result in mental health difficulties such as depression.
In Part 3 I am going to explore some simple stress busting techniques