The Hidden Stress You Didn’t Know Existed
More and more information is being made available to us to understand stress in the modern world. However, back in 1967, a famous Hungarian endocrinologist by the name of Hans Selye published his research on stress.
He came up with four classifications of stress, still highly-regarded today. In fact, he’s regarded as one of the pioneers in stress research.
This type of stress is often regarded as being good stress. It’s the type of stress we experience when we need to rise to a challenge. We’ll experience this when we are playing sport or we’re exercising and we’re pushing our body to reach a certain goal. But of course, too much of this stress, can actually damage our body and damage our health.
This what happens when we pushing ourselves beyond our limits. Now, this is okay when you need perform well under pressure, like a job interview or speaking on stage, but where it doesn’t work for us is when we’re working late every night or we’re working seven days a week. We’re pushing ourselves beyond our limits, all the time.
This form of stress is really well-known. It’s well-known as the fight-or-flight response. This term is commonly known; we either need to fight a predator or run from a predator. But of course, we don’t have predators that often in our lives. Threats to our wellbeing are things like losing a mobile phone or the internet, being cut off in traffic, so we often experience the fight-or-flight response in everyday living and over-produce the stress hormone, cortisol, into our system.
4. Under-stress (the unknown stressor)
Not many people will be familiar with this type of stress yet many will have experienced it. In fact, there is more and more research being conducted around under-stress, many large businesses now recognise that it leads to a lack of productivity, innovation and development.
Under-stress is basically presenteeism. It’s where you’re rocking up to work but you’re not actively involved, you’re not engaged, you’re not being utilized and you’ve lost your mojo.
My Real Story of Under-stress
I was working for a charitable organization in the area of sponsorship development and community engagement. My work required me to engage with the local community and small business to generate sponsorship, donations and engagement with the charity. This work involved a lot of networking, talking, presenting and I was quite often on the phone.
However, I had a new supervisor. This supervisor really didn’t understand my role, my skillsets, wasn’t interested in my ideas and didn’t recognize what I could contribute to the team. We’d recently moved to a new head office and it was a disaster. The layout was terrible. It was a big open space divided by partitions and a mutual walkway down the middle.
Not only were there the executive and senior staff who really, really needed to concentrate, they were married up against the other staff (separated only by a partition) that were required to have many phone calls and conversations.
At this particular time in my life, I was buying my first home. So not only was I talking on the phone a lot for my work I was also having to have the odd phone call to talk to my real estate agent and the bank about purchasing my house
Now, this new supervisor sent me an email and it started with “Don’t take offense but,”, (so you know when a conversation or an email starts like that that it’s about to be offensive). She said “I can’t be bothered to walk down to say this “o you in person, but would you mind keeping your voice down? “I’m trying to concentrate. I’m writing a report. Thanks.”.
Now within seconds of me receiving this email she was at the printer, which was right next to my desk, smiled at me, picked up the paper and walked back to her desk. I knew at that moment the printer had more priority over me. Not only did she not want to engage in personal conversation, she would deliberately exclude me from social engagements with the rest of the team outside of work. She’d say “Oh, I didn’t think “you’d want to come because you have kids.” I was the only one in team with children. I was excluded from important decisions and discussion. (I now know that this deliberately exclusion is a form of bullying).
For me, this caused immense under-stress. I was being undervalued, underutilized and under-recognized. I hated going to work every day, I dreaded it and I had to work really hard to keep myself engaged, to find valuable work to do. My supervisor did not appreciate or value me at all. I was experiencing a high level of under-stress. So perhaps you’re experiencing this at work. Perhaps you’re feeling underutilized, undervalued and you feel like no one is hearing you and no one is listing to you.