Healthy vs. Unhealthy Stress

December 10, 2018
Stress and anxiety are unfortunate facts of the daily existence of many. Busy schedules, long commutes, limited sleep, and poor diet are the usual stress and anxiety inducing culprits. Each one of these contributes to the existing stress of the other. Most non-pharmacological remedies are common sense approaches many find they do not have the time to pursue; therefore, individuals spend their days struggling with daily demands and workloads that often seem overwhelming. Without a practical solution to the issues that either cause or contribute to stress and anxiety, risks to health, job performance/satisfaction, and relationships are often collateral damage.

Healthy Stress vs. Unhealthy Stress

Naturally occurring stress of meeting deadlines/quotas, satisfying clients/customers, and other responsibilities are at times compounded by office politics and culture. A certain amount of stress is considered normal, and what is often termed healthy stress, the type of stress that motivates individuals to achieve higher levels of success. Healthy stress produces endorphins, a rush when pursuing a coveted account, making that big sale, or working on a team project. Healthy stress is the kind of stress that makes individuals look forward to going into work each day and often marveling at how quickly the day goes. People who experience healthy stress are typically top producers and voice high job satisfaction. If, however, the work environment is not healthy, work stress becomes the very opposite causing individuals to become resentful clock watchers.

Stress caused by driving

Work-related stress is not the only thing that can affect job satisfaction. Long commutes which often mean a loss of home and leisure time and decreased sleep also contribute to unhealthy stress that begins to erode levels of healthy stress. If commutes are spent on expressways with stop and go traffic, heavy traffic flows, and accidents, these daily annoyances can also contribute to high stress levels. For the clock-watcher, traffic issues that impede progress toward home cause resentfulness toward the job to increase even more, and resentfulness is a breeding ground for stress.

Reduce driving stress with alternative routes

Some commuters find that avoiding expressways by taking alternate routes is less stressful. The landscape and neighborhood views along the way can actually provide a level a stress-reducing enjoyment. Commuters may realize when they find the right alternate route home that they are actually spending the same amount or less time driving than when on the expressway at the mercy of whatever traffic debacle exists.

Many workers find they must learn to live with the cause of work-related stress and anxiety. However, external factors such as commute, diet, and sleep are not entirely out of one’s control. Getting one’s commute under control can mean more time to focus on proper diet and improving leisure and sleep habits. Actively combatting unhealthy stress by starting with factors within personal control could mean a reduction in the level of unhealthy stress beyond one’s control and increase the ability to harness healthy stress which is believed to enhance job performance and increase job and life satisfaction.