The Tipping Point - Stress

Posted on December 22, 2016

Photo: flickr

While bouts of workplace stress can help you better focus on tasks and increase efficiency, chronic stress can impact the quality of your work, jeopardising your employment, and your life outside of the office.

It's difficult to tell when the stress hits a breaking point, and you start suffering the effects of burnout. While stress is emotional or mental strain that can come and go, burnout is the physical, mental emotional exhaustion that occurs after prolonged stress. It emerges over time and can be more difficult to recover from.

"It's not always made explicit, but in reality there are consequences that people face when they appear not to deal with their stress in the workplace," says Stefano Petti, a partner at Asterys, an organisational development firm in Rome.

In 2015, more than 488,000 people reported stress-related illness at work, which is 37% of all work-related illnesses, according to UK’s Health and Safety Executive Labour Force Survey.

Figuring out when stress goes from positive to negative is tricky. Chronic stress almost always means you'll reach a tipping point, says Petti, which can harm your career.

That's the opposite of stress that comes up only during the most nerve-wracking projects or busier times of the year, which eventually subsides without negative influences, explains Petti. It's the long-term stress that will ultimately affect both your physical and mental wellbeing, with reactions that include heart palpitations, stomach problems and having trouble making decisions, he adds.

Most people fail to recognise the latter until it's too late. "There's a tendency to under-evaluate long term stress conditions," Petti says.

So how do you become aware of your own tipping point once subjected to chronic stress? The answer may take some digging.

Previous experience can play a huge role in how you handle stress and deciphering your own personal tipping point, says Ron Bonnstetter, senior vice president of research and development at TTI Success Insights, which specialises in workplace performance in Scottsdale, Arizona in the US.

Dealing with stress over time can break down the body's ability to deal with short bursts of stressful situations, he says. Stress affects workers based on previous experience, and symptoms can emerge as physical, emotional, cognitive or behavioural, according to TTI’s research.

"We haven't isolated stress in the workplace," says Bonnstetter. "We carry baggage from all aspects of our lives and our reaction can be [unpredictable] when some of those triggers occur."

Looking back, it's easier to spot a tipping point, which can actually occur over months or even years, says Alan Levin, founder of, a therapy practice for lawyers in Chicago. Often, it's not someone just snapping in front of colleagues but can manifest gradually, he says. The idea of a tipping point, "over simplifies what really is a process of experience and understanding," Levin says.

To read the full article, click on the link below.

Category(s):Stress Management

Source material from BBC

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