Overtime, deadlines, difficult colleagues, being constantly available: Work can be stressful. Seven in ten workers experience sporadic or frequent stress. While stress can invigorate and inspire some people, it can make others sick or depressed. How can we turn stress into our friend?
The short answer: We can’t. Because stress has ALWAYS been our friend. This so-called “eustress” invigorated our ancestors, helping them to solve difficult tasks, speed their decision-making and learn from it.
Stressors not only enable us to gather mental strength to tackle future challenges, they can also create enjoyment. Because only those who challenge themselves can relax afterward, and only those who jump those hurdles will be rewarded with feelings of joy.
GOOD STRESS, BAD STRESS
When we solve problems at work or at university, we create positive stress. We truly develop our full potential when we’re creative, productive and motivated.
It’s different when we’re reduced to just reacting, when we’re not rested and simply have to “hold out” until the end. Then stress becomes distress, with its dark side that makes us more exhausted, nervous, irritated, depressed, and which impairs our sleep and can cause physical pain (more on stress symptoms here).
UNBALANCED STRESS MAKES US SICK
Stressors become especially damaging when we lack emotional support after work and lack the time for compensatory activities such as hobbies, meeting friends and family, and mental as well as physical exercise. Our hearts and minds suffer as a result.
A high workload dramatically increases the risk of illnesses including heart disease and depression that can become burnout. Should we stop working then?
That’s no solution. Studies show that people without a job feel less healthy, become ill more often and die earlier than workers do.
So work is good for us, because the right amount of challenges makes us healthier and happier. But how de we know what amount is right, and how do we deal with stress effectively?
The KENKOU stress library is to help you accept work and stress as part of your life, and help you handle it more effectively. We want to assist you in meeting challenges with greater awareness, finding ways to compensate for stress, and helping you enjoy the many hours spent at work.