Work transformed.™

Stressed in the City: Taking Stock
Part 3

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Image by Freedom II Andres via Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Stress has become such a common part of life, that people are often not even aware how high their level of stress might be. No matter where you live, answering the following questions will provide you with insight into where you sit on the stress continuum.

Use the following scale to assign yourself points on each question and then add up the numbers for your overall score:

1= never   2= seldom   3 = sometimes   4= often  5 = always

I spend 50 hours or more at work each week (include time spent commuting)

I have difficulty getting adequate sleep, exercise, hydration and/or nutrition.

I feel depressed, exhausted and/or overwhelmed when I think of all I have to do at work and/or at home.

I feel like I have little or no control over the demands placed on me at home and/or work.

I feel that I am not meeting my responsibilities at home and/or work.

I neglect taking time for myself (for recreation, relaxation, quiet time or self-care).

What your score means:

24-30 Meltdown Waiting to Happen

While it may seem like you are getting by, you are operating in survival mode – giving all of your energy to your work and/or family and neglecting your own basic needs. If this continues, you are at high risk for depression and stress-related illnesses. Take some time to get clear on your needs and priorities and schedule time to put yourself first and take time to access the many resources that are now available online to help you gain control of your time and your life.

15-23 Getting Caught in the Thrill of the Chase

People who score at this level are often striving to advance their career for the increased power, status, recognition or material rewards it brings. As they take on special projects or approach deadlines, they flip between their regular, more balanced work schedule and one that involves long hours and high stress. They justify that they will get back to their healthy routines as soon as the project/deadline is over. This doesn’t always happen. The thrill of achievement can lead to chronic over-commitment. Before they realize it, “down” time between projects becomes almost non-existent, their 60 hour plus workweek becomes a badge of honor, and the joy they used to feel in their work and achievements disappears.

14 or less Great…But Will It Last?

If you scored at this level, you likely have developed solid systems, habits and routines for managing the needs and demands of work, family and self. While you may consider yourself to have reasonable life-work balance, if you are not doing work that aligns with your values, utilizes your strengths and provides you with a sense of purpose and meaning, the balance you have established may be shaken up as your natural desire to bring your whole self to work emerges. Heed the quiet whispers that it might be time for a change before they turn into screaming demands.

Learning To Thrive

While the above quiz provides an indication of where you may be approaching the danger zone, it does not indicate the competencies necessary to manage stress and thrive over the long-term. To get an indication of your Thrive-Ability, answer yes or no to the following questions:  (Note: any question that is not a 100% yes, is automatically a no).

  1. I am crystal clear on my values and am completely aligned with them in life and work.
  2. I understand my strengths and use them on a daily basis to energize myself and accomplish my goals with maximum effectiveness, efficiency and enjoyment.
  3. I have a clear sense of purpose that I connect with on a daily basis to focus and energize my work and to bring meaning to all areas of my life.
  4. I have a clear vision for my life, work and family and see myself steadily moving towards it.
  5. I am conscious of my needs and am able to create strategies to meet my needs in ways that align with my values, strengths, purpose and vision.

If you answered “no” to the first two questions, refer back to Parts 1 and 2 in this series. If you answered “no” to the last three, watch upcoming issues for more tips on how to master stress and grow your ability to thrive in life and work.

Image by Freedom II Andres via Flickr. Some rights reserved.

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