How do you deal with workplace stress?
Perhaps, I should start with this – do you deal with workplace stress?
By dealing, I don’t mean trying to rest it away or fighting for a few days off to relieve the pressure that’s built up.
I also don’t mean just quitting the stressful project/job because that doesn’t guarantee that whatever tension you had accumulated up and until that point will magically go away.
I mean, actually evaluating the source of your stress as well as the impact it has had on you and finding healthy ways to address it.
Toxic workplaces and work cultures are such an unfortunately common occurrence that we’ve accepted them as status quo and told ourselves that’s just the way it is. We grind our teeth, dig in deep and do what we need to do to get the pay check at the end of the month.
I used to work in a high pressure industry where a best case scenario is people drowning their issues in alcohol and/or recreational drugs; at worst, the harsh reality of suicide hits very close to home. In between, there’s a trail of broken people and broken relationships.
In those moments, I realized how truly blessed I was as a believer to have the Holy Spirit as a Counsellor who represented the Prince of Peace in my life. Half my prayer time would often end up being a divine therapy session.
If we’re to be honest with ourselves, many of workplaces are not doing well.
We’re also not doing well either.
Given how much of our time, effort and being goes into work every week, when our work lives suffer, our home lives are unlikely to prosper. There’s no magical switch between the two that makes one okay when the other is not. They’re environments that feed into each other and from each other.
When you’re caught up in the rut of survival, it’s easy to fall into the lull of acceptance that things will never change. Because hoping for something different simultaneously means having to deal with the disappointment of a reality that crushes your expectations.
But what then is the good of having God in our lives as believers if we are just going to muddle along in survival mode as everybody else?
Shouldn’t having God in our midst have some impact, at the very least in our lives, if not the lives of those around us?
I can’t prescribe a one-size fits all solution to make our work lives and workplaces better. While I firmly believe all the answers are centred in Christ, they will take on different expressions for different people and contexts.
But this is where I think we can all begin:
1. Get to know the God of the marketplace
For many believers, God is only relevant in their church life and to some degree their home life. But we’ve inadvertently ignored His presence in our work lives. We need a reintroduction of who God is in the marketplace. We need to make use of the Holy Spirit who is our ever present Help.
Take action: Ask the Holy Spirit to help you get to know Him in the context of the workplace. Be intentional this week in talking to Him about everything happening in your workplace – big and small, good and difficult – and take heed of His leading.
2. Understand who and why we are
One of the reasons we started Kairos was the realization of just how many believers either don’t know and/or don’t understanding God’s purpose for them in the marketplace. A fish trying to climb a tree can only end up frustrated; not because it’s inadequate but because that was never what it was created for in the first place. You need to be the right person, in the right position, in the right season. If any of these is out of sync, struggle and stress are inevitable.
Take action: Ask God if you are the right person, in the right position for this season. If so, find out from Him what He expects of you and how you can partner with Him. If you need some extra help, check out our store resources which are centred on this.
3. Establish a spiritual support system
Just because you’re where God wants you to be doesn’t mean you won’t experience challenges. We’re not called to be maverick lone rangers as Christians – it makes us easy targets for the enemy of our souls.
Take action: Make use of your spiritual support system. Be intentional in sharing your workplace joys and worries and asking for encouragement and support where you need it. If you don’t have a support system, ask the Lord to help you create one by leading you to the right people. If need be, there is no shame in seeking professional counselling services.
4. Remember our journey is both spiritual and physical
When you’re in a workplace surrounded by people of various belief and non-belief systems it’s easy to forget this reality of Christianity. We are in this world but not of it. There is a spiritual parallel to everything that happens in our workplaces and work lives.
Take action: Ask God to reveal to you the spiritual realities of your work environment and give you wisdom on how to deal with them in prayer. Invite your support system to partner with you in prayer. Only matters established in prayer can be made manifest in the natural realm.
5. Do something fun!
When was the last time you did something purely for the joy and fun of it? Our joy as Christians is as much a testimony to the goodness of God as our perseverance.
Take action: Find a way to make this happen sooner rather than later; as a regular thing not a one-off. Your future self will thank you for it.
Breathe and be thankful. A difficult moment or even season is not a bad life. Let God guide you into the paths that will fully glorify Him as they fully satisfy you.