Stressed out at work?
Stress could be holding you back from success and shortening your lifespan. In our multi-tasking, go-go-go world, many of us wear stress like a badge of honor.
We have more appointments, deadlines, and tasks than we could fulfill in a single work day. Our smartphones enable an “always on” workplace culture where it’s the norm for the boss to send emails at 10 pm and expect a response. We’re too busy, too overworked, and too scheduled. We’re living in a state of perpetual suspended anxiety.
Taking a break to de-stress sounds nice, but who has time for that? For small business owners, this pressure is even more intense. If we want to build a successful business, we need to work harder and smarter than everyone else. But what if our commitment to working harder is what’s holding us back?
Stress: The Silent Workplace Killer
Work-related stress contributes to over 120,000 deaths annually and costs more than $190 billion in health care expenses each year, reports Forbes.
Stress is a highly personalized phenomenon. Some individuals thrive in a high-paced pressure cooker job that others would find overwhelming.
“The severity of job stress depends on the magnitude of the demands that are being made and the individual’s sense of control or decision-making latitude he or she has in dealing with them,” reports The American Institute of Stress.
No matter how large or small your business, the fact remains that our biggest obstacle to success is often self-inflicted stress. Our inability to unplug and disconnect compounds our struggles with crisis management. Every missed deadline or dissatisfied client becomes a crisis, sending our bodies into “fight or flight” mode for survival. When we live in a perpetual state of chronic stress, we are physically harming our bodies. Our muscles are tight and tense, our heart rate and blood pressure are elevated, and our body’s systems drained, says the American Psychological Association.
Chronic workplace stress does more than increase our risk for heart attacks, weight gain and diabetes, and a host of health problems. This stress can also increase the risk for addiction.
Drugs in the Workplace: You Can’t Pop a Pill for Success
“You need a Xanax.”
“Just take a Valium.”
“Pop this pill. You’ll feel better.”
Valium and Xanax are two of the most commonly prescribed drugs for treating anxiety, panic disorders and stress. Both drugs are benzodiazepines, a controlled class of prescription medications that can be dangerous and addictive when abused.
“The statistics for benzodiazepine abuse and addiction are truly staggering,” says Per Wickstrom, one of the nation’s leading experts on addiction and recovery. “Workplace stress is driving a dangerous epidemic of dependency. Many of these addicts hold MBAs and are high up in the world of business. These are successful entrepreneurs and corporate leaders. Unfortunately, the pressure to perform leads to their downfall.”
Workplace culture can perpetuate addiction. A 2014 expose on Silicon Valley’s drug-fueled tech startup scene shocked few who had seen the “fiercely competitive VPs and adrenaline-driven coders” up close.
“I’ve had them from Apple, from Twitter, from Facebook, from Google, from Yahoo, and it’s bad out there,” says Cali Estes, a Miami-based addictions coach told The San Jose Mercury News about his work with more than 200 Silicon Valley.
Echoes Per: “There’s this workaholism in Silicon Valley and throughout the corporate world where the ability to stay up for days to meet a tight deadline becomes a badge of honor. The descent into addiction is all but inevitable for many stressed-out workers. The same goes for startup founders. They go from running a small startup to trying to manage hundreds of employees and prepare for an IPO. It’s overwhelming.”
Stress Relief Today Comes at a High Price Tomorrow
Popping a pill today may seem like an easy solution, but there’s nothing easy about addiction.
“There’s a slippery slope from use to abuse to addiction,” says Per Wickstrom, who’s Choices Recovery treatment center works with corporate directors, business owners, and upper management personnel.
Wickstrom encourages anyone confronted with an inordinate amount of stress to think long and hard before popping that first pill. “Seek counseling. Talk to your mentor or use guided imagery and meditation to help you relax but by all means, keep that pill away from your mouth. Take one and you’ll take a thousand. Don’t take the chance. There are other ways of dealing with stress so seek them out.”
We need a nation-wide shift in our workplace culture and work-life priorities. As a small business owner, you have the power to set the tone for your company’s culture. Let your coworkers know you value their health and well-being above company profits. Remember, money will always come and go, but we only have one life to lead here. Let’s live it well.
Pill Photo via Shutterstock