Work pressure is a huge issue in the lives of many people. Yet it often goes undetected. In fact, you might experience great levels of work pressure and not even realize it.
Previously, we covered some issues about how work pressure can affect work-life balance. It starts with a few more colds and some restless nights. Shortly, your personal life gets cluttered up. And you end up hoping for a sick day. With high cortisol levels, your perception skews. Especially when your work-life balance is off.
Meanwhile, modern management is coming up with better ways to churn your potential. Your workload might increase although your energy levels are lower. Additionally, that raise is slow to come. Your schedule gets stuffed with nasty meetings. Everything seems to point to work pressure. In the previous article of this series, we’ve covered how it affects your health. Here’s how it affects your work behavior.
Spotting work pressure in work behavior
In all fairness, work-related behavior is something plenty of people would normally notice. Your team should be able to easily spot when you feel stressed or under pressure. Your manager should, among other things, manage your workloads.
By all means, team communications should work in your favor. Yet, this is often not the case. Hence, work pressure sadly goes unnoticed or unreported. It will most certainly affect your work behavior. Moreover, it will weight down on your productivity. Just like a self-fulfilling prophecy, work pressure will bring more work pressure. So here’s how to spot it yourself.
1. Work pressure feeds the wrong kind of procrastination
There’s good procrastination out there. The type that helps you get more creative and improves your problem solving. It’s a small work-vacation that your brain takes to help you with work. Like when you’re dealing with tedious repetitive tasks. And end up automating them.
The wrong kind of procrastination, however, is different. The wrong kind of procrastination is always a result of anxiety. It does not develop as a consequence of boredom. Instead, it develops as a result of “fight or flight”. Your brain “freezes” because of anxiety.
Your whole body is ready to do something, anything. To soothe it, you start burning energy on random tasks. They’re not helping you develop. They’re helping you cope. But this type of coping is bad for you. You’re not doing something productive. In fact, you’re not even taking a break. In reality, you’re doing valueless work.
How to know if it’s the wrong kind of procrastination? You often feel guilty afterwards. And, most importantly, all that happens is a bit hazy. You feel more tired and less creative. Overall, your negative procrastination is just time you toss away. Meanwhile, you’re left with the consequences.
2. Work pressure often leads to self-assessed isolation
When facing too much stress in a social context, we tend to hide it. It’s almost as if we think that stress is shameful. And admitting to stress would take us out of the evolutionary pool.
Indeed, a workaholic culture has little tolerance for anything other than more work. When people claim they’re busy, everybody shows appreciation. The harmful stereotype is that important people are very busy.
When people feel like work pressure is affecting their lives, they hide. And the place where they hide the most is at work. We often fear that admitting to stress might be interpreted as a sign of weakness. That it might mean we’re not able to cope. So, we’d rather not signal weakness. Bloody waters pulls in the sharks.
When you feel like it’s all too much, you obviously feel the need to shut it down for a while. To go someplace and reboot. To reset your thinking, relax and recover. You seldom get the chance to, however.
Work pressure makes you feel alone. Why? Because everyone else seems to be doing just fine. However, under that veil of confidence, similar issues are lurking. Indeed, as ironic as it sounds. People affected by work pressure are lonely because they hide it. And they can’t find empathy with affected coworkers because they hide it too.
Loneliness at work is a real problem. It drives people away from their jobs. Moreover, loneliness is one way work pressure increases your blood pressure. So far, we’re clear that loneliness at work is bad for you. And we know that work pressure makes you feel lonely. But it’s not always the case that loneliness has to do with work pressure. Hence, pay attention. If you feel lonely, ask yourself this: is it work pressure that makes me feel so alone?
3. Work pressure makes you more prone to outbursts
Poor anger management often accompanies stress. It starts with anxiety build-ups. When facing work pressure, we start feeling anxious. We keep thinking about the “worst that could happen.” We build a table of risks and threats in our heads. And we populate it with all sorts of dangerous values.
Anxiety changes our personal narrative. To clarify, anxiety affects what we tell ourselves. Even more, we tell ourselves that our work isn’t good enough. That we risk losing our jobs. Hence, we start to conclude, everybody wants to harm us.
We’re already feeling lonely and isolated. We victimize ourselves: here we are, no sleep, with a cold, at work. Likely everything will be of poor quality. We’re building, brick after brick, a structure that will collapse and suffocate us. Everything we experience is on the negative side.
We begin feeling light-headed and somewhat numb. Now that everything is going so bad, we’ve detached ourselves a bit. In fact, it’s the only thing that keeps us going. But it doesn’t last long, we’re back to the agony and the pressure.
And there’s nothing that we’d hate as much as being interrupted. So it’s no surprise that we snap when least expected. Yet, the reasons are only obvious to us. One key manifestation of work pressure is that we’re quick to explode. The moment something intervenes, we fight. When you’re under too much work pressure, everything seems to come at you. In effect, there seems to be no relief.
Join us in the Part 3 of this series to learn about ways to unwind from work pressure. By the way, this article is part of a series. Here you can find Part 1, Part 2, and Part 4 on how to eliminate work pressure.