Mental Wellbeing

How To Limit Chronic Stress At Work

April 13, 2022
Marcia De Wachter

What is considered chronic stress?

Many people experience acute stress at some point in their lives. Such stress often occurs in unexpected situations: a computer breakdown, a traffic jam, a general technical breakdown right before the deadline. When you are put in an acutely stressful situation your body releases adrenalin, which causes a rush of energy. Adrenalin is your body's way of preparing itself to take action. Breathing techniques, such as controlled breathing, can help manage short-term stress.

Chronic stress, however, can be more insidious; it occurs when the body constantly feels pressured and overwhelmed over a long period of time. Three to five typical stress symptoms for more than several weeks might indicate that someone is suffering from stress. Chronic stress can be caused by everyday pressures or by traumatic events.

Three chronic stress examples and how to limit stress at work

Challenges and pressures related to your job can cause chronic work stress. When the demands of a job exceed the amount of control an employee has over the situation, they may suffer harmful physical or emotional responses. If you have ever dealt with chronic stress at work, you know how draining it can be and how difficult it can be to deal with. Here are three sources of workplace stress and supportive steps you can take to reduce stress at work.

1. Imperfection

You want to achieve a perfect result yourself, but many factors are against you: you have been ill or simply unprepared, you are a novice in the matter and ignorant, you had family obligations, you were not in the 'mood', you were unmotivated or in doubt.

Tip #1 - Can you reformulate your objective as an approximation process and no longer as a long attempt at perfection? Perfection is the enemy of good. Can you just be 'good enough' instead of 'perfect'?

2. External obstructions

Your result is dependent on and too much determined by other people or external factors: the behavior or assessment of those other people is inadequate, dismissive, or even toxic; external factors such as insufficient budget, employees, unrealistic time limits make it impossible for you to perform your job properly.

In those cases, you are dependent on third parties or external factors and there is a great loss of your autonomy and control.

Tip #2 - Can you reformulate your objective so that the result depends exclusively on you and you are no longer under the control of other people or external factors?

3. Demotivation

Your intended result or goal is consciously or unconsciously no longer motivating for you. What was once important to you no longer matters. In short, you have become demotivated.

Tip #3 - Reflect on whether you can still identify yourself with the goal you wanted to pursue. That takes time and patience. What was the original goal? How did you want to achieve it? Why did you identify with it and what are the factors that have demotivated you? Are they temporary or irreversible? What could motivate you again?

Change your reaction to stress

I, like everyone else, have experienced each of these causes with the regularity of the clock. Try to reflect on the causes of your stress, and question your reaction. Like Hans Selye, a pioneering endocrinologist who studied the response of organisms to stressors said: "It's not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it."

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