The plethora of employment paths that an individual take all require different skill proportions to be put into use in their execution. A surgeon needs to adapt with the stability of his hands and trained heavily in medical pedagogy, whereas a psychologist would have to be empathetic, and ready to cope with the mental fatigue arising from showing others limitless empathy and compassion.

On the other hand, a construction worker lies on the end of the spectrum that requires physical fitness and unwavering core strength. Thus, it is clear that each sphere of employment has its own sets of challenges and roles to fulfill, which require different forms of intelligence, and elicit different kind of stress from the experiences faced at work on a daily basis.

We often wonder whether stress has a detrimental impact on our health. Well, stress in a healthy amount is sometimes considered positive, as it increases the level of motivation or they nor drive we experience while performing a certain task towards completion. However, when stress transcends this healthy proportion or magnitude, it often leads to burnout or a complete breakdown in the near future. The high rate of burnout among medical residents in most hospital settings is attributed to the long work hours that they are exposed to, which translates into a lot of physical stress in the realm of work, and mental stress due to the frequent inability to manage one’s curricular work.

From the aforementioned example, it is pretty clear that there are some roles and responsibilities that possibly require equal magnitudes of physical and mental effort to turn out as efficient. But, do you often ask yourself, ‘Is it physical stress that will take more toll on me, or does mental stress too, do the same amount of damage?’ This is something that we’d like to resolve myths about.

Some of us may think that one or the other take a greater toll on our daily functioning, but what is the truth? Let’s compare the stress profiles faced at work on a spectrum to see the differences in the stress faced, if any. In a city like Mumbai, traveling in public transport itself takes a toll on our physical strength. Beyond the commute, let’s try and look at what kinds of effort individuals put in at their places of work.

The Laborer: Physical Stress

The laborer toils in the harsh sunlight, putting together structures that we inhabit in the various metropolitan environments we call our home. They tend to do a lot of manual work on a daily basis, and this strengthens their bodies. However, it also takes a toll on their daily energy levels, and may cause prolonged soreness of the muscular system over time.

Image: Agung Rajasa on Flickr

This is definitely not a pleasant experience to have, since physically exhausting work often leaves individuals too exhausted to interact with their loved ones at the end of the day. However, on the other hand, there are some laborers that emphasize the level of satisfaction that they get from their work, saying that the physical exhaustion helps them achieve the pleasure of deep sleep every night.

The CEO: Emotional Stress

Let’s jump the corporate ladder or the ‘hierarchy’ that we spoke of in our earlier post to reach the top. Those sitting on the high chair at any venture don’t really face a lot of physical stress, since even fieldwork would possibly involve going to a meeting, and interacting with a room full of people. This is where emotional resilience and the strength of one’s mental faculties comes in.

Image: Craig Whitehead on Unsplash

A CEO has to, first and foremost, ensure that he is able to make effective decisions for his workplace without falling into a dilemma. He also has to ensure that he is able to maintain a barrier of assertiveness with his employees, which at times, can be quite hard. All of these aspects may take a toll on the emotional palette of an individual working in this capacity. However, on the other hand, working in a capacity that requires such high emotional intelligence and decision making skills enables individuals to become

Event Management Executive: A Stress Cocktail

In a field such as event management, it is clear that one needs to do a lot of running around, and also interact with an array of people to organize and streamline the processes going behind the organization of large scale events such as award shows or concerts. That’s why, we think that an Event Management Executive would probably be going through a cocktail of stress.

Image: Painshill Events

Perceptions and How they Shape Stress

Figuring out logistics and sourcing material that goes into manifesting an event, interacting with sponsors, and basically thriving on-site in order to ensure smooth proceedings is what an average day in the life of this individual probably looks like.  This mix of roles and responsibilities, on the other hand, could possibly make this individual extremely resilient in times of stress, as aspects of our work ethic do often spill over into the way we handle events in our lives.

At the end of the day, each individual is different. Some of us may experience stress at the mental, physical, or both levels to a higher degree than others. This feeling of stress is triggered not by the events we face at work, but by how we perceive and handle what we face through our experience.

If a CEO isn’t able to keep his assertiveness intact at work because of his forward, aggressive personality, it will probably cause him to perceive work as stressful due to the high frequency of outbursts faced as a result of minor friction with employees. A laborer might perceive his work as financially unrewarding, making all the physical effort seem fruitless, and the soreness even more painful. On the other hand, if these individuals perceive their work as rewarding, and look forward to going in everyday, they will probably experience satisfaction when they sign out and get home for a good night’s sleep.

It is clear that when we talk about stress, we often tend to underestimate how it can affect us. However, the way and the magnitude at which it strikes is often correlated to how we perceive our own roles within the workplace.

 

An undergraduate in Psychology, Shantanu is an aspiring Educational Psychologist who will be pursuing his Master’s in 2018 at the Ohio State University. He is adept with psychometric and statistical research, and has honed his grasp over psychology through a 4 year undergraduate course in Liberal Education at FLAME University, Pune.