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Top 7 Ways in Which Too Much Stress at Work Hurts Your Career, And What To Do About It
By Elisabeth Kuhn
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Some stress is a normal part of any professional career – like the pressure of an impending deadline or the anxiety you feel before giving a major presentation. In fact, this type of stress is known as "eustress" or positive stress that motivates you to achieve more. However, excessive negative stress can cause problems in both your personal and professional life. If you're experiencing any of the following symptoms, it’s essential that you consider stress management counseling or find other ways to manage stress in your life. Failing to do so can have major implications for your career.
- Stress Causes Health Effects
Experiencing stress on a daily basis can result in many different health consequences. When the body experiences stress, it releases adrenalin and cortisol naturally as part of our primitive fight-or-flight defense mechanism. These hormones increase the oxygen level in the blood and boost the sugar in the blood – both of which prepare the body to either flee or fight as our caveman ancestors would have done.
These hormones are useful in the short term, but if they’re constantly secreted over time due to stress, the immune system becomes hindered and your body’s ability to resist infection is compromised. Stress also leads to a number of chronic health conditions, including high blood pressure, headaches and heart disease. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, you may miss work more often or find that your on-the-job productivity isn’t up to par.
- Stress Prevents You from Doing Your Job
Dealing with personal stress at work can hurt your career by hindering your ability to complete even your most basic job responsibilities. If you’re focused on other problems when you should be doing your job, your work will start to suffer. You'll be less detail-oriented and may miss small mistakes or larger errors. If you fall behind for too long, you could find yourself suddenly demoted or let go altogether.
- Stress Affects Concentration
Naturally, stress affects your ability to concentrate at work. While it’s true that not all jobs require a high level of concentration, those that do – such as careers in the medical field – demand constant awareness. Stress has a way of clouding the mind that makes it difficult to focus on particular tasks. This can seriously impact your career objectives if your boss catches you off-task frequently.
- Stress Causes Mood Swings
Many times, when we feel stressed, our bodies respond with marked mood swings due to the varying levels of hormones we’re experiencing. Unfortunately, the workplace is no place for emotions and moods that are consistently fluctuating. You may accidentally snap at a fellow employee, a customer, or even a member of management – which could bring your career to an abrupt end.
- Stress Compromises Your Self-Esteem
Displaying feelings of stress at work may hinder your personal and professional growth. People who experience constant stress often demonstrate feelings of anxiety and a lack of self-esteem. Unfortunately, it's typically the employees that display a high level of self-esteem and confidence that are promoted more often. If you don't feel confident in the job you're doing, it could be because stress is holding you back – you'll need to learn how to identify and manage stress if you want to get ahead at your job.
- Stress Prevents You from Advancing
Whether they like it or not, employees are constantly being evaluated on their potential for advancement. Being able to handle stress effectively is a big part of making the leap into a higher-level position – especially if you work in a high pressure law or financial firm. If management observes you buckling under stress, it’s likely that you won’t be promoted and may even be viewed as a liability to the company.
- Stress Inhibits the Growth of Professional Relationships
It's true that the best jobs go to the well-connected employees – the people who know people. Therefore, the key to successfully advancing at work is to develop these networking relationships with your colleagues. If you’re constantly dealing with your own personal stress, you may not devote the time that’s necessary for those relationships to be properly developed. In the end, you’ll find that this hurts your career tremendously.
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Article Submitted On: June 19, 2008