Going the distance

Common causes of work stress

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. May 27, 2011

Need more help?

If the stress in your life is more than you can cope with, get help right away.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Go to the nearest hospital or emergency room
  • Call your physician, health provider or clergy
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
    1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

Another colleague and I recently helped facilitate a workshop on how to deal with stress. It was a group of 13 professionals, so we had ample time for reflection and discussion. Participants shared some of the same concerns that I see popping up in blog comments:

  • How do you deal with increasing expectations in an environment of decreasing resources?
  • How do you deal with bullies, not only at school but also in the workplace?
  • How do you give your job your all and still have something left?

Here's some of what we talked about:

  • It's up to you to determine what's crucial for your health and well-being, and how to balance that with responsibilities that are truly "mission-critical." For example, I recently agreed to participate in an early morning meeting I didn't have much interest in it. I had to get up especially early and consequently by the end of the day, I felt like I had the IQ of a zucchini because of fatigue. Not the best use of my time and energy.
  • You don't have to be a perfectionist in everything you do. For example, if I spend 10 hours to prepare a slide presentation when 8 hours would've done, I've lost two hours. That time won't be noticed by my audience, but it might've been spent on another task or responsibility.
  • You don't have to allow yourself to be "bullied" by leaders in your organization. One woman shared how she addressed the problem privately over a cup of coffee and came away feeling empowered. She acknowledged that the situation will never be ideal, but she feels that by speaking up she's at least ensured that it won't be so unsettling.

In the end, we all agreed that you have to find a way to take care of yourself physically and mentally, despite the pressures of the workforce. If you let your health deteriorate, your work performance likely will be affected and, thus, your job security.


Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

Join the discussion at #Stress.

5 Comments Posted

May 27, 2011