Managing Stress In The Workplace – A Lesson in Internal vs. External Stressors

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Managing Stress In The Workplace – A Lesson in Internal vs. External Stressors

October 10, 2019

We all know what stress feels like: Our heartbeat quickens, our palms sweat and we may not be able to sleep. What’s harder to pinpoint is what situations are causing our stress. Stress can be related to anything in your life, including work, family, finances or loss. Typically, if you’re already experiencing stress, minor situations exacerbate the feeling.

Not all stress is bad; a little bit of pressure helps keep you focused and more inclined to meet challenges. But, too much stress in the workplace typically interferes with job performance and leaves you feeling unmotivated and overwhelmed. While you may not be able to get away from all the stressors at work (i.e., long hours, poor management and tight deadlines), you’ll be able to better manage your stress in the workplace if you can identify them and determine how they affect your motivational quality.

Internal pressure exists when your performance at work is driven by feelings of obligation, instead of excitement. Internal pressure can make successes and failures feel like reflections of your worth.

External pressure occurs when you feel coerced by external forces, like fear of punishment or obsession with attaining rewards, to do your job a certain way. These are different from internal pressures in that you do not typically have control over them.

Everyone manages their stress in different ways. Here are some ideas for you to try:

  • Focus On Effort

You cannot achieve everything at once. So, redefine success to mean an increased effort that helps you attain goals (instead of solely achieving the goals). You will learn to appreciate the hard work you put forth, and eventually, you’ll reach the target without compromising on quality.

  • Ask For A “Say”

In many cases, people become stressed because they are not given a sense of autonomy in their job. Inquire about incorporating your own ideas on the project if it will bring the desired results. Talk to your supervisor about the opportunity to make more choices independently. It will demonstrate initiative and show you can think critically. This will lead to a higher level of engagement in your work.

  • Conquer Deadline Pressures

Just the thought of a deadline approaching can cause stress and hinder your motivational quality. In some cases, an employee will freeze, even when the remaining time is enough to complete a given task. If this happens, immediately convey the pressure you’re experiencing to your manager; they can help you manage the deadline and keep you accountable. And, you’ve heard it before: Work as far ahead as you can. It will protect you from getting into a stressful situation in the first place.

  • Get Control

At times, work can be so hectic that you don’t know where to begin or what needs to be done. Step away for a minute to help calm your mind. When you return, jot down one or two things that are critical for the day, clear your calendar and get to work. It will help keep your motivation high when you see items being crossed off your to-do list.

  • Go Outside

In most cases, we don’t realize we’ve overcommitted at work until the quality of our work weakens. When you feel drained by work, find time to enjoy outside activities like a bike ride or walk to the park. The chance to clear your mind and get some fresh air ensures you’ll feel rejuvenated next time you step back into the office.

  • Find Your Passion

At work you are required to set goals (or they’re set for you) and reach them. But there is a difference between achieving a goal with passion than without. If you don’t inherently have a passion for the task at hand, manufacture it by focusing your attention on something you’re going to gain by completing the objective, like learning another skill. Recognizing this personal growth will incite motivation.


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