Stress levels are on the rise in North America (1).
In fact, greater percentages of adults are reporting extreme levels of stress each year (2).
Overall, adults report that stress has a negative impact on both their physical and mental health (3).
A large proportion of these people do not feel that they are doing enough to manage their stress (4).
Stress has been defined as how the brain and body respond to any demand. This could be exercise, work, school, major life changes, or traumatic events (5).
Stress can affect your health. So it’s important to pay attention to how you deal with both minor and major stress events so that you know when it’s time for you to seek help (6).
When asked about sources of significant stress, work is in the top two at 65%. The number one biggest cause of stress, at a whopping 67%, is money (which is also work-related) (7).
Work-related stress is one of the most common types of stress purely because of the amount of time we spend there. When you think about it, you probably spend more time with some of your co-workers than you do with your own family!
The North American lifestyle drives us to see work as the main thing in our lives.
A very common small-talk topic is “what do you do?” Here in North America, we always respond to what we do for work.
But did you know that in other parts of the world, the intent of the “what do you do?” question is actually to find out someone’s hobbies and interests?
Our priorities are different. Our top priority always seems to be work.
The 2 major causes of stress at work
There are many possible stress triggers. Stress levels can also vary from mild to moderate to severe. Each person deals with stress in their own way. This varies from one individual to another.
It seems as though the people who are the most stressed are those who are competitive in nature. Those with the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality.
It can also be incredibly stressful when you have a manager or a boss breathing down your neck, watching your every move, or even just evaluating you on a regular basis.
Employees who feel the need to please their manager or co-workers are likely more vulnerable to stress in the workplace.
So many different jobs are demanding. Along with awe-striking advancements in technology comes this unfortunate “unable to log off” mentality.
It’s just so easy to take work home with you or to do work online from your home (or anywhere else, for that matter).
This makes it easier for an employee to work late into the night or on weekends. Or, even worse, when they’re supposed to be on vacation!
It’s also due to these technological advancements that communication has become so much easier.
This means that your boss or co-worker won’t have too hard of a time reaching you when you’re not supposed to be working.
And you might even feel the expectation to reply in a timely manner, causing you to be going through e-mails on a Sunday afternoon.
Many jobs involve getting a performance review on a regular basis. This can be very stressful because you feel like you always need to be on your A-game.
Trying to maintain your focus at work is another potential trigger for stress.
Stress can actually be detrimental to your ability to maintain attention on your work.
By overworking yourself, you’re actually potentially lowering your ability to perform well, because concentration becomes difficult.
Stress can also negatively affect your mood. You might even take this problem home with you and snap at your partner or your children.
To continuously be performing at work at a high level is exhausting. It takes a toll on your mind and emotions. It can also lead to burnout.
Job insecurity stress
Many people have anxiety around the fact that they could be let go or fired from their job at any moment. Once a person realizes that they are replaceable, they can become fearful about losing their job.
A regular income is so important in order to provide for your family and for yourself. People get anxious at the thought of being unable to pay their bills or the idea of living paycheck to paycheck.
People can also get stressed about the sense of responsibility that they feel towards their family. There is, of course, the pressure to provide basic needs, such as food, water, and shelter. But even those who can meet these needs still feel the stress of wanting to provide their family with luxuries like nice clothes, vacations, and cars.
People who have been fired in the past know how difficult it is to lose a job and, most especially, to find a new one. The time between a job loss and finding a new job can be completely overwhelming. Even just the thought of having to go through all that again can be stressful.
People can also get stressed about the potential problem that they will never be able to find a job again. Their mind may even race to dark questions, like: “What if I can’t feed my kids?”, “what if we lose the house?”, and “what if we end up living on the street?”
Identify the cause of stress
In naturopathic medicine, one of the main principles is treating the root cause of disease. If we think of stress as a sort of disease here, it’s important that we find out what is at the root of that stress.
In order to do this, the person must ask themselves what is important to them. What’s worrying really about?
Be mindful and accept there are things you cannot control
What’s the point of worrying about something you have no control over? In the words of J.K. Rowling, “When you worry, you suffer twice”.
Don’t worry about something if it might not even happen. You might not even end up losing your job. And even if you do, who knows what might happen? Maybe you will find a new job right away that is even better suited for you and causes less stress! You never know what the universe has in store for you.
Be mindful. This involves being aware in the present moment, without thinking about the past or the future. It also involves not casting judgment on yourself, which, in my experience, many patients tend to do.
Find something you love about your job
Chances are you’ll feel less stressed if you actually enjoy your job!
I am positive that you can find at least one thing about your job that you enjoy.
Focus on that one thing, and then think about ways that you can bring more of that one thing into your job.