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How To Speak Up When You’re Stressed At Work

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Unless someone is a higher up at a company, voicing their honest opinions regarding anything from a potential plan to a simple suggestion about the breakroom can be intimidating to say the least. In fact, there are more than a few employees out there who avoid these interactions like the plague. Obviously, stifled communication in an environment that depends on it is no way to go about attaining success. Furthermore, if this behavior of withholding is repeated, it can change the overall demeanor of the workforce permanently. There are many reasons why an employee may not be willing to offer their thoughts to a particular conversation. Author Natalie Goldberg highlighted one of the strongest of these, “Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath. Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down.”

Despite stress being a naturally occurring emotional state within people, it can overwhelm them to the point where they begin to lose control of their work situation or selves. Not only does this pose a threat to the relationships within the office, but it can also put an employee’s job in jeopardy.  To help anyone who finds themselves in a similar position, we put together some ideas for how to speak up when you’re stressed at work. 

Where Does Stress Originate From?

To overcome something, one must first understand it. Unfortunately, stress and the human body do not create conditional diagrams that someone can walk themselves through to find where the stress they are experiencing came from. As with people themselves, stress inducers are incredibly unique. This characteristic makes it incredibly difficult to ascertain not only the point of origin, but also the path forward to move away from the feelings of stress.  However, physically speaking, humans have tendencies and reactions which can lead to finding out more about these stress inducers. Provided someone pays attention to the ques the body is serving up. Jae Pak, Founder from Jae Pak MD Medical said as much, “Often, our body knows what’s going on before we become aware of it. For example, that pit in your stomach when someone walks in the room? That’s your body expecting something unpleasant.”

If someone can begin to make some sense of these physical ques, they will be able to make far more use of the following ideas. 

Find the Right Time

The mental and physical effects of stress have this way of altering the thought patterns of the person currently experiencing it. This can result in behavior that may not be socially acceptable in certain cases which no person wants to demonstrate. To avoid this, take some time to think through both the issue at hand and the best way to present it. Assuredly, blowing up in a staff meeting is the least constructive, and arguably most damaging, way to go about handling stress. A tangible example of this was offered by Max Schwartzapfel, CMO from Fighting For You, “Stress can make you do funny things, the key is to make sure this doesn’t happen. Find a private time to discuss your stressors with superiors or the actual people who are stressors in your life.” 

Write Down Any Thoughts

Imagine for a second a box and inside that box is a bouncy ball that gains momentum whenever it meets another object. If someone was to throw that ball off the wall, the ball would continue to bounce off each wall in perpetuity, gaining speed at each touch of the walls.  This is what the human brain is like when it is under stress but does not find a way to express them. According to Sumeer Kaur, CEO from Lashkaraa, this natural occurrence is harmful, “Bottling up your stress is like building an emotion bomb inside yourself. At some point, you will reach your breaking point and all you’re bottling up will come exploding forth. It sounds simple, but just writing down stressful thoughts can make a world of difference.”

Why is this the case? Well, returning to the analogy of the bouncy ball and the box, it is a bit like taking some air out of the ball. If the ball has less contained within itself than it did previously, it stands to reason that it will move at a less explosive rate. Over the course of time, the ball’s movement would slow to a crawl, if air is being let out regularly. Writing down stressful thoughts is like letting the air out of the ball. Not only will the people around a person experiencing stress be able to avoid an explosion, but daily life will also be far more manageable for said person. 

Take a Breath or a Break

Most are familiar with the following definition of insanity - doing something again and again but expecting a different outcome. This applies to dealing with stress as well. If someone was to put themselves in the shoes of this definition, it would be entirely understandable if they grew frustrated and stressed with their inability to achieve that different outcome, even if it is never coming. It is at this point that stepping away from the problem at hand becomes the best option on the table. Rachel Roff, Founder and CEO of Urban Skin Rx put it like this, “When our brains focus on one task for a long period of time, it’s going to bring stress. But it also can get stuck in a rut-like thought pattern. In unison, these two things make communication difficult to say the least. I think the best way to be proactive about fighting either or both is to simply step away and take a break or a deep breath.”

No matter how one looks at it, stress is part of everyday life, especially in the working world. On top of this, leaving it untouched entirely will only bring more stress. To make the best of this reality, consider the words of actress Jen Lilley, “Stress is a downward spiral, and you can only overcome it with a positive perspective.”


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