Due to the nature of my job, I’m under a lot of pressure. It’s an ongoing situation (let’s just say that I can’t talk to anyone about the details of what I do for a living). I’m trained to do the work but I’ve found that the continuous pressure and stress that I’m under is affecting the work I do.—Jane
The ways in which different people feel, handle, and even define stress, are amazingly personal and, according to Sandra Hohener, from the Canadian Mental Health Association, personality-based. (Is that a total doy? I just find it so interesting!) Anyway, Hohener says that “If we are more organized, or more optimistic, or more of a worrier or a Type-A personality, those factors affect how we interpret stress,” although the ability to actually manage it is largely based on past experience.
Hohener also told me that there are different kinds: distress, “the continuous feeling of being completely overwhelmed,” or being always behind and not seeing a way out; eustress, which is positive stress, the motivational “bursts of energy to move forward,” like what you might feel before starting a job, or a date; and episodic stress, which is short-term, situational stress. (P.S., all of this is giving me nausea; P.P.S. I’m moving tomorrow—do you think my movers will be on time?)
Work stress, Hohener says, could affect your life in four specific ways: physically, like increased heart rates, or with changes in diet and sleep; behaviourally,
like how you interact with people; cognitively, which explains mental stress-haze and being overwhelmed by normal work stuff; and emotionally, as in having shitty self-esteem, like in a ‘why-am-I-struggling-like-this?’ kind of way, combined with super-impressionable feelings. (I have a theory that the Real Housewives are so unappealingly spazzy because they’re under non-stop fame, economic and friendship pressures.) Still, during prolonged distress, Hohener says, “We don’t necessarily react the same way to the stressor as if it were episodic stress. Our bodies physically take in too much over time.” Is that when it feels like acid is being manufactured in tiny chemical plants throughout your body? Hmm.
Hohener says that it all comes back to how you perceive your situation and if you have the resources to cope. She says that you need to pay attention to the internal signs. Talking to your GP about it, or an Employee Assistance Program person, or any therapist or counsellor, or a friend or family member, will help. “When people feel stressed, they feel very much alone.” Get a massage, meditate, take breaks, exercise, and eat well (ha!). Also, try “positive self-talk” like saying out loud that you’ve handled this kind of situation before, and are good at it, which you must be. “Learn to accept that you’re not going to be able to control everything,” says Hohener. Be realistic about how much you can do, and organize your work and real life so that it’s less like a Van de Graaff generator and more like a list. Do a fun thing every day, even if it’s just watching a terrible show (may I suggest Real Housewives?). And try to remember that a day without stress is the forever-best, but a life without stress is wasted and boring.
Due to the social butterfly nature of one of my friends, whose good friend I now work with, my different friend groups are converging. Help! —Daniel
Whaaat! This is the TV-sitcom promised land, where instead of existing alone in a city like everyone else, you are part of an endless and endlessly connected friend-strata. Seriously, this is a best-case scenario. Lucky!
I understand why you’re iffy, though: When you are different versions of yourself with different people, even being in the same room with several of them can feel like an identity-volcano, which is why I block my sister on Twitter and don’t invite my boyfriends to my birthday parties. But we’re so dumb! Sooo dumb. There will still be independent social-satellites around you, regardless, so wild out (or nerd out, or whatever) as appropriate, but trust your various peoples to handle it, because the other sitcom promised-land is getting to be as weird and gross as you really want and still having pals around who love you.
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