Stress at Work Place
Human beings are the superior species. They have been programmed with a gift of higher cognitive functioning, which no other specie has. While the gift has enabled people to live in an era of technology and convenience, it has also impacted individuals with various health issues. The higher mental processing has become a bane for a significant part of the society showing signs of diminished emotional well-being. Frequent issues of stress, anxiety, insomnia, and depression are being reported across the globe. By the virtue of being a Psychologist and Happiness Coach with Fortune 500 companies, my everyday environment consists of MNCs and their employees – from senior leadership to millennial; interactions revolve largely around emotional wellbeing, work–life balance and creating a healthy life for oneself. The most frequent question asked in these interactions is how to deal with corporate and work stress?
a subjective experience, an idiosyncratic perception and a major issue among all age groups in today’s time. A point to reflect here is – If stress is a subjective experience and individual specific then do we collectively call it corporate stress or an individual’s issue? Confucius once said,
“life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
The above fits aptly to the term stress in today’s time. Stress can be both positive and negative.According to the research, small amounts of stress may be desired, beneficial, and even healthy. Positive stress helps improve performance, motivation, adaptation and responses to the environment. Excessive amounts of stress, however, may lead to bodily and mental harm. Positive and negative stresses are very similar to “thinking” and “overthinking.” If kept simple, stress can really help us grow but when complicated, it can distort our reality thereby impacting us severely. For instance, a newly promoted senior leader may – a) Think of the possible strategies and implement them for higher responsibilities associated with the role or b) Overthink about the same and reach a burn out situation.
When optimal level of stress can help us sustain a good life then what is modifying its benefits and turning it to the negative ones? Why we label various life situations as stressful, complicate our lives and attract misery? The answer is our automatic thoughts. Automatic thoughts are very powerful, mostly negative. They pop up in large number simultaneously in a human mind. Mere perception of situation through these negative automatic thoughts can sink an individual in stress. In the corporate interactions, I gathered that individuals fall under the pressure of their own aspirations and ambition. Individuals’ lack of clarity between ideal self and real self either underestimate or overestimate their skill sets. This puts individuals in the vicious cycle of negative thoughts that are perceived as stress.
In the words of William James, the father of American psychology,
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another”.
Conscious acknowledgment of the thoughts that run in our mind can help us to select rational thoughts that enable us to switch from negative to positive yielding to emotional stability and favorable bodily responses. In a simple definition, stress occurs when pressure (external environmental demand) is greater than the resource (internal personality resources). In order to deal with stress, it is important that we build and enhance on our resources from time to time. On the contrary, most of us try to reduce the pressure that results further in frustration and feeling of lack of control. The key takeaway is the difference between external locus of control and the internal locus of control. External locus of control relieves people from stress for a shorter span of time but the internal locus equips them with rational thoughts, higher resilience and self-awareness crucial for both self and stress management.