The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The creative sector is one of the most stressful industries to work in*. Unforgiving deadlines, juggling multiple stakeholders, and managing budgets along with client expectations certainly keep us on our toes, and can keep us awake at night too!
Some stress is good for us; it releases adrenaline which propels us into action and focuses the mind. It keeps us alert and can even release some of those ‘feel-good’ endorphins.
Then there is the bad stress. This is the kind that weighs us down; it makes us feel overwhelmed, anxious, ‘foggy’, and irritable, leading to feelings of depression, low self-esteem, and a loss of control.
I liken stress to fats in food.
We need the ‘good’ fat to keep our bodies functioning; but too much ‘bad’ fat can cause serious, even life-threatening, health conditions.
So, what’s the ugly?
People. More specifically, those who still see stress as a weakness in others, and who fail to see the damage it does to a person’s mental and physical well-being.
Thinking specifically about work-related stress, while we’ve moved a long way in understanding and supporting stress, there can still be a lack of empathy around it.
Ever heard someone say: “Man up, it’s your job”; “She can’t handle the pressure”; “He’s a snowflake”; “Put a smile on your face”; or “You need to leave your problems at home”? (I can feel my stress rising just thinking of these statements!)
Unfortunately, stress is inevitable; everyone experiences it.
A single incident or short period of stress, in itself, is not insurmountable. I recall a major multi-million-pound acquisition for a leading construction company where our team would be up working at 4 am in the morning for weeks, but it had an end to it … and the comradery and reward in terms of a job brilliantly executed and achieved were almost electric. But this could only be achieved because I had incredible support from my team, a genuinely compassionate employer, and a very supportive partner.
But a build-up of stress, or multiple stressors – such as money, relationship, family, health issues, a life-changing event or indeed a prolonged workplace issue, leads to ‘compound stress’.
If ignored, the magnitude of these stressors multiply and increase in severity. When a person experiences compound stress, they’re in a red alert zone! Add to this a lack of support and an uncompassionate environment, and you have what I call ‘work-enabled compound stress’.
Recognising stress, its triggers, and how it affects a person is key to managing and supporting one another.
A good employer will empower you to ask for help and provide the right environment where you can be yourself, and where you feel valued, supported, motivated, and safe. A place to talk and to feel listened to; a place where asking for help is seen as a strength.
It is no surprise that companies who take time to understand how their people deal with stress, what triggers that stress, and who support them in managing and building resilience, significantly benefit from the gains of a happier and healthier team.
Here at Gosling, we’re taking time this Stress Awareness Month to think about the triggers that cause us stress and how, together, we can further help and support one another. We’ll be sharing some of these on our social media channels, where we also welcome everyone’s experiences, ideas, and tips for coping with stress and better well-being at work.
*Notwithstanding the NHS, Police Force, Fire Service, or Armed Forces (for whom we thank you).
Marketing Communications and Engagement Specialist
Anna is a strategic marketing and communications specialist with a focus on employee engagement and internal communications. Her experience includes the delivery of award-winning change management and people campaigns as well as developing strategic marketing communications across the ESG agenda. She joined Gosling in 2021 and also provides strategic people, marketing, and ESG counsel for the Gosling business.