People cope with problems the best way they know how. The unfortunate truth is that there are millions of people who are facing stress-related problems whether at work, home, or another significant area in their life, while there are thousands of websites that cater to precisely these problems. Life has never been simple but things in today’s world have in some ways become infinitely more complex than before, somehow sprouting the kind of problems that generations in the past didn’t have to deal with. This is made evident by the sudden proliferation of terms such as mid-life crisis, quarter-life crisis, burnout and depression, which are on the verge of being used as often in everyday conversation as we include vowels in our speech.
It is difficult to know whether the increasing prevalence of stress is caused as a natural consequence of the world evolving into something more complex faster than we are equipped to comprehend or deal with, or a result of ignorance on the part of human beings, or an actual increase in quality and amount of stressors in the environment surrounding us. A good place to begin understanding the source of the problem is by observing the way it manifests in various spheres of daily living.
When one thinks of stress in the workplace, the common complaints that pop up often (but not exclusively) include –
- “My superiors don’t understand me.”
- “I don’t have the freedom to work the way I want.”
- “I’m overworked and underpaid.”
- “Subordinates are incompetent.”
- “I have to meet unrealistic deadlines.”
- “The work I do is not meaningful.”
These, alone or in combination, constitute a majority of the sources of stress in the workplace. Unfortunately, while as human beings we are efficient at multitasking, delegating and organising, most people would agree that it is tough to compartmentalise areas of our lives beyond a certain level. This means that stress caused at work can take a toll on one’s personal life as well –
- “My personal life takes a backseat to my superiors’/client’s demands.”
- “I come home completely drained, and have nothing left to give to my partner/family.”
- “I often have to bring work home.”
- “I can’t get back home in time to put my kids to bed.”
- “I no longer have time to do things I enjoy.”
What makes the situation worse is that it becomes a vicious cycle that’s a tough spot to get out of; once you start feeling that you are under-appreciated or that the work you do is not meaningful, it is hard to motivate yourself to work hard. One thing feeds into another, and stress is no longer stress but something much bigger and scarier. This is where the need for stress management in the workplace becomes crucial. It is essentially a form of self-care in which one learns the skills necessary to cope with stress at work. There is a common misperception that personal growth and business development cannot go hand in hand, but recent research shows not only otherwise but also that personal growth (such as in the form of self-care) ensures inner well-being, which in turn enhances performance at work – it increases creativity, boosts productivity as well as enhances social and communicational skills. The logic is simple: a happy person is a better employee.
The next time you think that you cannot afford to think about your needs in the face of pressure from work, take a moment to think again. By taking care of yourself at work, you become a far bigger asset to your organisation; by giving yourself due value, you add value to the work you do.
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