Question of the Week: Stress and the Workplace

When I looked at my website stats last week, I took special note of the search terms used to help people find my site.  One in particular caught my attention.

Is there a place for stress in the workplace?

With so much talk about workplace stress, it seems we’re always trying to get rid of workplace stress.  I know when I present my stress management workshops I do discuss the “positive” side of stress, because in truth there is an upside!  There is no such thing as “stress free”, however, there are methods you can practice to help use stress in a more useful way.  Or as I like to say “turn stress into success”.

So, as you think about your work environment, whether you are a sole proprietor, freelancer or work for a larger entity, what do you think?

Is there a place for stress in the workplace?  And what might that look like?

Please share your thoughts below.

Creating a buzz…

Looking for a way to bring more work happiness and less stress into your work day?  Karl of is offering an affordable teleclass to help you do just that.  Learn more about his upcoming teleclass “How to Kick Butt at Work and Be Happy, Too”.

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  • Tess The Bold Life

    One example I can think of that would be turning stress into success is when I procrastinate I get stressed because I know avoidance gets me no where. Each day that goes by my stress level increases. I have the choice to turn the very thing that’s causing me stress into success by doing the difficult tasks first. Then I can enjoy the rest of my day.

    When I worked as a therapist we were required to write copious notes for the insurance companies. I don’t like paperwork! I was always behind. Then I’d obssess about an insurance company calling and asking for notes I didn’t have. It’s seems silly looking back. Again if I did the difficult first I’d have less stress.

    I think creativity and good stress are related. When I have a project and need to get it done I might be afraid of doing something wrong. Yet when I embrace our fears and work through them it allows creativity to flow. That’s how it works for me anyway! Going over to see Karl now!

  • Karl Staib – Work Happy Now

    I agree that there needs to be stress in our lives. If not we tend to just put things off because why care about them.

    Now the things that we do care about there is good stress that motivates us to take action. I get stressed when I speak to a large group, but I channel that stress to stay focused. If I didn’t care I probably wouldn’t give a good presentation.

    To me we lump stress into too many categories. Stress is pressure we put on ourselves too accomplish external goals. I like to think of anxiety/worry (internal conflict) as another category. The old saying goes something like… “Accept what you can’t change, change what you can, and know the difference!”

    Thanks for the link. The teleseminar will definitely help people learn how to harness their stress.

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  • Katie West/The Levity Coach

    Stacey….this is a great question. So great that I have pushed aside some work to read and thing about it (hmmm will that create stress?)
    I am kind of a word junkie and the origin of stress comes from distress and further back, narrowness and oppression. The only value I can see in knowingly putting ourselves into stress is so that we can appreciate when we are no longer constricted. To enjoy feeling open again.
    But I would question is the effect on our mental, emotional, physical well being worth it?
    I tend to think that I experience stress in my body when something is out of whack…or out of balance. Stress acts as a guidance tool to get me back on track.
    So maybe in this way it is useful as a compass point, telling us when it is time to restore and rejuvenate ourselves.
    Again, fabulous post-very thought provoking!

  • Evita

    I honestly think stress all depends on perspective, and what we allow it to be. Sure there can be a place for stress in the workplace. There can be a place for stress in every part of life if we allow it. It all just depends on how we see things.

    For example a company may have missed a huge deal and one CEO will flip inside out over it, while another understands the perfection of all in the Universe and allows the moment to be in peace for they realize that is exactly how things were meant to go.

    To me any talk of stress always comes back to our thoughts and how we choose to see the world. If we take a deeper look at that, we may find that stress takes on a whole new role in our lives, one that is not negative at all. Moments of presence, moments of stillness throughout our day allow us the most opportunities to act instead of react to anything that comes our way. And when we act from a place of consciousness, we quickly become empowered and rise to a state where we realize that things are not as much out of our control as we may have thought them to be.

  • Lance

    Stress. Hmmm….I can’t help but think of working out, and how, for instance, doing some sort of resistance workout places stress on our muscles. And because of that, they grow. I wouldn’t want to have those muscles under constant stress, but when they are for short periods of time – the result is a stronger and healthier body.

    So, workplace stress. And how does it relate to working out? Well, I think that when we are feeling some extra stress in the workplace, we are also given the opportunity to strengthen another part of our being – our minds and our emotional being. And in so doing, we become more adapt at that particular situation. Again, I wouldn’t want to be under mental or emotional stress all the time. In those moments when I am, though, I strengthen another part of me.

    Okay – all that said – maybe a big part of this is also how we “handle” that stress. I think it is. There are good ways and not so good ways of working through stressful moments. And while I see these moments as being opportunities for us to grow in some way, they are also not something I go out looking for. I have to agree with Evita, that there is something to our whole thought process in all of this, and that can make all the difference in how “challenging” a perceived stressful situation might be.

  • Chris Edgar

    Hi Stacey — I think I’ve learned a lot about myself from taking a close look at moments where I find myself feeling stressed — where my pulse gets elevated and my muscles start tensing and so on — it helps me notice a lot of the unconscious ideas I have about how I need to relate to my work.

  • Jodi at Joy Discovered

    Hi Stacey!
    Good stress for me is when I have a deadline that helps me get keenly focused on the goal and the end product. Those are some of the times that I am most “dialed in” to what I’m doing and I really feel like spirit is soaring through me and into my work.

    Good stress is also when I am presenting something to a group of people. Those are the times when I know I need to step up and be over-prepared for all possibilities. I am always thankful for this kind of stress because it always equals a growth opportunity.

  • Stacey Shipman

    Hi Everyone! Wow, I love how thorough and thought provoking each response is!

    Tess – I get the procrastination thing. I feel so much “lighter” when I finally do what I’m supposed to do!

    Karl – I once heard someone say (or read a quote, can’t remember): Without stress I’d be dead”. Stress is energy – it’s how we choose to use it. Can’t wait to talk more this weekend!

    Katie – Thank you for prioritizing me ahead of your work! :-) I like your thoughts about using it as a compass point. That, to me, says you are aware of it…which many people are not. And knowing what it is and how it shows up is a great first step in turning stress into success.

    Evita – I, too, believe stress has to do with our thoughts…which is why I’m a believer in yoga and meditation to more effectively manage stressful events.

    Lance – good analogy. Too much of anything is not always good for us, is what I’m taking away from your comment…

    Chris – Once I became aware of how stress affects me I became much more “in control” over my own life – at home and at work. It really does make a difference.

    Jodi – I often use that public speaking example in my workshops. The stress helps me prepare and practice more! Thanks for stopping by!

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