Scientists in the 19th century discovered that if they put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it would immediately jump straight out (surprise, surprise). More importantly, they also found that if they put a frog into a pot of cold water and set it to boil slowly enough, the frog would stay in the pot and boil to death. Apparently the frog was able to adjust to each incremental change in temperature without realising that the situation had become so dire. Now, although that experiment is questionable on so many levels (and please don’t try it at home), it is a great metaphor for life. Often we do just keep adjusting to each small change in our environment, circumstances, or the expectations of others, without realising the collective impact of our actions.
Like most things in life, stress can be good or very bad.
Good stress (eustress) motivates us, bad stress is debilitating. Mountains of research over the past few decades has clearly shown how damaging occupational stress is, radiating out to all areas of our lives. It’s vital to ensure that you have good coping strategies and the confidence to use them in the most productive way.
Being stressed at work can lead to all sorts of physical, and emotional difficulties like depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal disorders, and headaches, just to name a few. Stress can affect our work performance, damage our relationships with family, friends and colleagues and have severe consequences on our health. In fact, stress is associated with the six leading causes of death – heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide – with 75 – 90% of all doctor’s visits being for stress-related complaints!
DEBORAH FARRELL (MCounPsych)