Stress: What Presses Your Buttons?
We live in stressful times and the key to coping is to identify those things in life you can do something about. I can’t list all possible stressors (the things that make us stressed) but I can highlight a few of the more common ones, such as:
Never Being Wrong. Sometimes this is a self-imposed issue rather than a reality but we do also live in times when mistakes, even relatively mild ones, are viewed with scorn. There’s a tension here in that we accept modest levels of error, from a new employee for example, but after that the world of work can be an unforgiving place.
More-for-less. Every place I’ve ever worked goes through the remorseless business of reorganization. After all the upheaval I’m left with a feeling that two things have resulted. The first is that everyone has gone through huge and often unnecessary levels of stress. The second is that work roles become organized in such a way that what was once the job two people did, now becomes the task for one person. Needless to say the effects of such changes rarely, in my view, seem to achieve what the multi-page justification said it would.
Pushed and Pulled. Very often it’s the conflicting demands made of us that causes stress. These days, for example, I work for myself. In one respect it’s great but like all freelancers I often experience the conflict of knowing I could do with time off, but needing to work. I have a deadline to meet but I must keep my promise to visit my sister today and I must remember to collect a parcel from the depot. You get the gist. Our daily lives are filled with such issues and sometimes it forces us to make choices.
Giving and Taking. In order to operate successfully we really need to be surrounded by people who treat us in ways they would like to be treated. We’d like some support, some trust and some give-and-take. Unfortunately there are people who are only too prepared to take and others who, perhaps willingly or otherwise, are the givers. If by nature you are something of a giver you will almost certainly find people in your orbit who are only too willing to take. It almost certainly places too many physical and emotional demands on the giver.
Relationships. By this I’m thinking of intimate relationships but to some extent it could involve close friendships. Relationships involve some complex dynamics and one of the central issues in the creation or relief of stress is communication. Honest, trusting, open relationships may be the ideal but this only comes about through some commitment and effort by both parties. When relationships become defined by power-plays, deceit and passive-aggressive or outright aggressive forms of communication it is a hugely stressful thing for people in, and sometimes on the margins of the relationship.
So that’s my list. It could be longer but it’s enough to be getting on with. One thing about the items on this list is that most point to situations and circumstances we can exert some control over, which means we aren’t consigned to the role of passive victim.