We all know what stress feels like. You know that can’t-sleep, struggling-to-breathe, oh-my-word-I’m-about-to-cry, I-think-I-might-die-there’s-so-much-work-to-do kind of feeling you get when you open your eyes on Mondays? It’s like that, only worse.

Just kidding – that’s cumulative stress.

The Stress at the Office

Cumulative stress is normal stress compounded over time. Traditionally, cumulative stress was experienced only in high-stress jobs, like fire-fighting, police work and trauma medical wards. But these days, you don’t have to be a cop to feel the pressure... Heavy workloads, long hours and poor communications can contribute to emotional exhaustion and anxiety.

Watch for Warning Signs####

Cumulative stress can present itself in many ways. General apathy, depression, emotional fatigue, irritability, sleep disturbances, poor appetite, loss of sexual desire and consequent relationship problems are just some of the symptoms. They can get worse too – resulting in physical concerns, like migraines, high blood pressure, heart problems, rashes and ulcers.

Managing Your Stress

Luckily, this kind of stress can be managed. Some liken it to the filling and emptying of a bucket – stressors empty your bucket, while sleep, relaxation and hobbies fill it up.

Practise these 3 tips to keep your bucket full:

  1. Stay positive: A positive attitude not only makes life easier for you, but it makes it easier for your friends and colleagues to keep it together too. Be kind to yourself, encourage others as often as you can and reflect on positive things that happen.

  2. Look after yourself: You can’t keep drawing from your bucket without putting more into it. Well, not unless you’re looking for a hernia. To stay healthy, make the time to relax by meditating, look after your body, and do the things that make you happy.

  3. Be self-aware: If you’re in denial about stress, you won’t be able to remedy it. Accept that what you’re going through is legitimate and not a sign of weakness. Learn to tell the difference between the kinds of behaviours or routines that help you loosen up and those that wind you up. It helps to leverage the support of people who can give you objective feedback, like a manager, mentor or colleague.

Your job doesn’t have to be a battle – even if it is taxing. Take the right steps to stay on top of it so it doesn’t drag you down.