Published on September 04, 2020
Reposting as part of suicide prevention month, September 2020...
When was the last time you said to a partner, colleague or a friend that you were stressed? Maybe you said you were busy, run down, hectic, exhausted, shattered, drained, zapped? By using those words you were probably communicating that you were somewhere on the stress scale.
Perhaps the most useful and widely accepted definition of stress (mainly attributed to Richard S. Lazarus) is this: stress is a condition or feeling when a person perceives that ‘demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilise’. In less formal terms – we feel stressed when we feel that things are ‘out of control’.
Stress refers to a threat to the integrity of a person, resulting in physiological and behavioural responses. Low to moderate levels of stress are, at many times, motivational. Though, very high levels of stress through long periods of time lead to distress, which can be harmful to health and wellbeing. In organisations, employee distress can lead to burnout and counterproductive work behaviour.
Its’ been something that I’ve been noticing for a while; that is how many of the people I interact with have been commenting on how their lives are stressful. I even took it as far to conduct a little experiment over the past few weeks…
In a typical introduction to someone when I see them or speak to them on the phone, my usual opening question is ‘How are you?’ In the last 4 weeks I’ve been (secretly) noting down the responses and here are the most common I heard:
‘I’m good, busy but good’
‘yeah ok, really busy’
‘Not great, I’m just so busy at the moment’
‘I’m glad you asked as I need your help as I’m just so stressed out!’
I’m pretty sure that the results of my mini social experiment are nothing of a surprise to you...
Take a moment to think about the last 10 people who you spoke to; and were any of the responses at the beginning of your conversation similar to my experience?
Now, take a moment to reflect…when the last 10 people who asked YOU ‘how are you’ what was your response?
I’m not a betting person, but if I was I would say that the vast majority of you would have used the word ‘busy’ (or similar) in your response at least a couple of times.
So, what does ‘being busy’ equate to? Well as my little experiment has told me, it’s that it often is another word for feeling stressed; can’t see the wood for the trees; too much going on; not enough hours in the day and feeling like things are a little out of control.
Let’s firstly clarify something before we move on, there is a difference between being busy and being stressed, you can be busy but not stressed.
Zoe Clews, a hypnotherapist who works with clients to reduce stress, wrote a blog recently titled The Imperfect Pursuit of Perfection. In there she wrote,
‘Life, it seems, has become an endless pursuit of perfection. The perfect partner, the perfect job, the perfect body, the perfect house, the perfect car, the perfect face. Except, of course, it’s never enough. No matter what we achieve, we keep redefining what we mean by perfection. Yet I’d argue that when we define perfection, we’re instead allowing ourselves to be defined by how we want to be seen by others.’
In this pursuit for perfection, has ‘being busy’ become a factor of a defining our perfect life. Seems ludicrous, doesn’t it? There seems to be this culture we have created for ourselves that if we are not ‘bragging’ about how crazy busy we are, then we are failing at life!?
By categorising ourselves as ’busy’ to the outside world on a daily basis, we are conforming to the culture that we have to be busy to be viewed as successful.
Busy lives can massively impact on our stress levels, that’s no revelation right there! However, when we feel like we have to say we are busy to fit in with a culture – then we are on a slippery slope to stressville with no way back.
Our Vibe technology we use at Laws of Attraction measures employee’s emotional response to four feelings, Stress, Trust, Empowerment and Passion. We use our STEP process to understand how employees are feeling and then offer our phycological insight into why this may be happening.
We are working with organisations and clients on a daily basis to educate, coach and mentor people so that they can find solutions to reduce stress and increase trust, passion and empowerment. Stress (in the workplace) kills productivity. It physically and mentally wears you out. You aren’t able to work on anything else because stress has taken everything away from you.
Sound familiar? Take some time to ask yourself some important questions and be self-aware about your own stress and resilience levels.
• What impacts on your stress and resilience? How do you currently manage it?
• What actions have you taken so far to manage stress? What else could you do?
• What are your long-term goals around building resilience and managing stress?
• What resources/support do you already have you could tap into? What support do you need?
The next time someone asks you, ‘How you doing?’, be mindful of your response. If you’re genuinely busy and stressed then don’t be afraid to share! Don’t however conform to the culture that BUSY IS BEST. It’s simply just not healthy.