Do you ever feel pressure building up at work or at home? Pressure is great for growth; you need it to keep moving in the right direction toward your goals.

It helps you to expand and create in the way that only you can. You want to use pressure to benefit you, and don’t let pressure become stress.

The Pressure Cooker at Work

The thing about pressure, if it goes unchecked and just keeps building and building without any release (think of a pressure cooker), that’s when it can turn into the unhealthiest kind of stress called chronic stress. The stress that causes health and other issues.

You don’t want to let pressure become this type of stress. Learn about the 3 types of stress and what to do to if you’ve got chronic stress here.

As I look back at my previous career and work habits, I could sense the pressure building, feel it, and yet felt powerless against it. Over time without actively addressing it, the stress became chronic, taking its toll on my mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

It’s common to feel this type of pressure regularly when in a high demand job or fast-paced work environment. The important part is to address the pressure before it turns to stress.

Pressure is a Sign of Growth and Change

Lately that familiar feeling of pressure has returned in my work life. I’ve begun some new coaching work. I typically work one on one with coaching clients, however, I started some coaching work for an external company where I must learn their systems and processes.

It’ll take some time to acclimate to all this newness, and I continue to remind myself that it’s part of the growth process and only temporary. This reminder helps in times when the pressure rises.

When you take on new assignments or when you’ve switched jobs to a new company, how was it for you? Those first 30-60-90 days can be rough.

You’re attempting to do the work you were hired to do, but getting up to speed with who’s who, how things are done, new systems and processes – it all takes extra time and extra effort.

When Pressure Becomes Stress

You may experience increased pressure due to other external forces too. Maybe someone was laid-off and now you have to take on the work they performed. Or maybe you’re experiencing more pressure from leadership, or a higher than normal work demand, or a lack of job security.

Even a lack of flexibility and autonomy in your work and your work schedule can leave you feeling stressed and as if you have no control. Over time or with too much pressure all at once, it can become overwhelming and stressful.

The effects of work-related pressure turning into stress is evident in your physical, mental and emotional health. Common ailments can include musculoskeletal problems like chronic back pain, joint pain and carpel tunnel syndrome. Gastrointestinal disorders, like acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers typically have a stress component.

Mentally and emotionally, issues like anxiety, burnout and inability to get good quality sleep (sleep disorders) are a result.

Pressure becoming stress also has adverse effects on a company’s performance and bottom line too. Increased healthcare costs and absenteeism are a result of chronic stress in the workplace.

Business leaders and owners should have an interest in managing the pressure and stress in their environments. But many times they get caught up in it as well.

Act with Intention: Don’t Let Pressure Become Stress

Here are some strategies to implement so you don’t let pressure become stress.

First off, stay present and conscious in the moment. In other words, realize that something is causing pressure. Pay attention to situations that you know will likely impact you.

Also, be realistic about what you can and can’t control. If the pressure is getting to you, take a few minutes to list out what the causes might be and circle the ones you can control.

Next, take action. For those items you can control, try a new strategy or approach to change the outcome. For instance, if you feel stuck in an unproductive weekly meeting and can feel the pressure beginning to rise as you think about the other work you need to be doing, have a direct conversation with the meeting leader. Give some suggestions for improvement like having a clear agenda with time allotments for each item. Or maybe suggest less frequent meetings with email updates weekly.

And for the things you can’t control, let them go. If you have a tendency to take on things that aren’t yours or that you have no way of influencing, it’s best to recognize that early on and let it go.

For instance, being late to a meeting due to a traffic accident causing traffic backup on the road, or technical problems on a webmeeting due to bandwidth overuse – let it go. Getting frustrated or upset doesn’t help. These things are beyond your control, and you when you recognize that and let it go, it takes the pressure off and allows you to move forward in a calm healthy way.  

 

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash