Since Covid, workplace stress is routinely headline news. Though the details of job-related stress are unique to each person, stress—the presence of mental or emotional strain caused by very demanding circumstances at work—is common.
Extreme levels of stress can lead to physical illness, loss of productivity, and reduced profitability. And yet some stress is inevitable. It's part of being human. So how do you know if you're too stressed out?
Understanding Workplace Stress
Discerning what is normal
Even the best job has thorns and thistles. What's needed is discernment to know if your workplace stress is normal—the kind you'd encounter no matter where you work—or something that calls for a change.
It's helpful to know what's normal. Perhaps work was stressful before Covid and the most recent economic downtown. Maybe it's been frustrating for a really, really long time.
Consider the source
What's causing your stress? Are you disorganized, too busy, or lacking support? At odds with your coworkers? Is there mission misalignment between you and your company? Do you have a harsh manager? Are you making ethical compromises?
Once you discover the source of your stress, you may be able to make changes to address it. It could be something simple like adjusting your schedule, getting more sleep, or changing your diet—or something profound, like following Jesus' example of getting up early to pray before going about the work of the day (Mark 1:35).
What's the best way to make changes, large or small?
Receive work as a gift
Remember, work isn't the problem—our sinful condition is. Work was created before the fall and is part of what God called good. There is still goodness in work. And we are called to do it with gusto: "Six days you shall labor, and do all your work" (Exodus 20:9, emphasis added). In light of the curse, however, whom we work for and how we view the work make all the difference.
Work for Another
Paul wrote, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:23-24).
Regardless of who signs your paychecks, if you're a Christian, you ultimately work for the Lord. He is faithful and never unjust. He sees the difficulties and trials you're facing. And He is "able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work," (2 Corinthians 9:8), even when your work is difficult.