How to turn stress at work into your friend?

Employee stress, particularly work-induced stress, is sometimes an inevitable part of our workday. Just look into the statistics - 50% of employees consider themselves workaholics and 45% of employees say stress is one of the top negative emotions they feel in the workplace. But what do we really know about stress and how we can turn it into our friend?

Stress is the body's reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. Stress is almost a synonym to the negative.

Chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms and affect your overall well-being. Symptoms of chronic stress include:

  • irritability

  • anxiety

  • depression

  • headaches

  • insomnia

Organizations and individuals themselves should take care to encourage and lead a lifestyle that avoids stress.

From the table above you can see how stress affects different parts of our body & behavior, and no doubt that chronic stress can also lead to demotivation, exhaustion, and burnout.

However, we forget that stress also affects our Emotion, Cognition, and Motivation and it’s not always negative.

By definition, stress is not always a negative force. It can be positive, negative, chronic, or acute. It can be compared to music played on the strings of a violin. If the strings are too loose, the sound is low and unclear; if the strings are too tight, the sound is high and irritating; but if the strings are set just right, the sound produced is pleasing and beautiful.

Positive or healthy stress is needed to help us operate at maximum potential, both mentally and physically. Stress is necessary for the normal functioning of our bodies, bringing productivity and joy into our lives. But on the other hand, if we have too little stress, there is no movement and we become aimless and stagnant.

Positive stress is called Eustress. And it has the following characteristics:

  • Motivates & focuses your energy;

  • Is short-term;

  • Is perceived as within our coping abilities

  • Feels exciting;

  • Improves performance;

Here are some examples of Eustress for Recruiters:

  1. Result Driven Motivation - it’s stressful to have high targets but it pushes you forward towards achieving great results;

  2. Doing company pitches when headhunting - you need to persuade potential candidates that you are great as an employer, but when you do it successfully, your dopamine level rewards you well;

  3. When you do tasks which are out of your comfort zone - let’s say you are interested in Employer Branding and you create your first marketing campaign - you are stressed because it’s not your area of competence (yet) but you’re also excited and grow professionally at the same time.

How to bring yourself into the state of Eustress?

You can see on the performance curve (Yerkes-Dodson Law) that the biggest achievements happen during the eustress - when you feel energized, focused but work still feels effortless. This is the best state not to get bored but also not to burnout.

So what can we do in our daily job to promote this state?

  • Self-Reflection and shifting mindset - self-reflect on your acts and thoughts, whether they are destructive and shift from fixed to a growth mindset. You need to put things into perspective to succeed in self-development.

  • Organizing work - plan & schedule, set up priorities, setting small but concrete goals; take a break in between your routine tasks;

  • Stimulating positive pressure - creating tough but manageable challenges for yourself, generating time pressure (hold yourself to a deadline to be accountable);

  • Harnessing the feeling of joy at work - search for something meaningful in each challenge you have (how it can be useful to gain new skills, what value it brings to the business, etc.)

  • Mental work - focusing on the essentials and core goals which you set up and taking your time to prepare;

  • Develop resilience - it’s very important to take breaks & to be able to detach from work, you can always do more in recruitment but you need to set boundaries and be able to detach from daily tasks;

These are the general tips to help you as a Recruiter and convert your routine from stressful to useful for your growth.