There is no doubt that stress is a part of life. Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s a particularly pleasant part of life. It also doesn’t mean that too much stress can’t be damaging. It certainly can. This is especially true with work stress. However, that damage doesn’t have to reach a level that it becomes unmanageable. Because sometimes, when it does, it can lead to addiction, and then it becomes much more than stress; it can become much more than damaging. It can become deadly.
What Is the Difference Between “Normal” and “Not Normal” Amounts of Work Stress?
According to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2021 Work and Well-Being Survey, of the roughly 1,500 adults they surveyed, “Nearly three in five employees (59%) have experienced negative impacts of work-related stress in the past month, including a lack of interest, motivation or energy (26%), difficulty focusing (21%), and a lack of effort at work (19%).” These statistics represent the difference between so-called “normal” work stress and abnormal work stress. Normal work stress should not cause recordable damage.
For example, it is perhaps normal to feel some stress regarding a work deadline. However, it is not normal for that stress to create friction at home, create any overwhelming feelings of anxiety or depression, or require a coping mechanism such as alcohol or substance use. These are also just a few of the warning signs to look out for when stress feels like it is crossing over into the “not normal” category.
What Are the Warning Signs of Too Much Work Stress?
It is important to be aware of the warning signs of excessive stress at work so as not to become overwhelmed or misguided by it. According to the peer-reviewed journal, BJPsych Bulletin, “Essentially, stress in the workplace may be the result of exposure to a range of work stressors and appears to arise when people attempt to manage their responsibilities, tasks or other forms of pressure related to their jobs and encounter difficulty, strain, anxiety or worry in this attempt.” These latter symptoms are what happens when work stress goes unrecognized, unreported, and ultimately untreated.
Of course, what wasn’t mentioned in that explanation was what those symptoms can potentially lead to, which is addiction. So, work stress awareness is key. The following are just a few of the warning signs that work stress may be becoming a problem:
- An inability to focus due to too many work-related projects on the mind
- Having trouble communicating concerns or feelings to coworkers, peers, or superiors
- Becoming easily agitated both while at work and while away
- Wanting to shut down due to the amount of strain or pressure one feels
- Having trouble sleeping, either not sleeping enough or not wanting to get out of bed in the morning
- Feeling physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches and gastrointestinal problems
- Using, misusing, and/or abusing alcohol and/or other substances as a way to cope with issues at work
The Dangers of Addiction When Drugs and Alcohol Become Coping Mechanisms for Stress
It is important to remember that addiction is a disease; it is not a choice. No one picks up a drink or a substance with the intention of damaging their long-term well-being. Some people do so for recreation. Perhaps others do so to reward themselves after achieving a goal. Then there are others that do so to deal with their problems. This includes dealing with work stress.
Now, it is also important to point out that all three of these examples of types of people have the potential for addiction. There are many reasons, biological, social, and domestic (just to name a few) that one can become addicted to alcohol or other substances. However, there are certain scenarios in which a person can become more susceptible to addiction. Using substances to deal with problems is one of them.
When work stress and substance use become symbiotic is also when work stress and substance use become cyclic. An individual may drink to help them manage their stress, but then that drinking may interfere with their productivity at work and ultimately just create more stress. Then the cycle repeats and repeats until the potential for addiction becomes a very dangerous reality.
The Importance of Individualized Care at Lantana Recovery
The good news is that there is hope for individuals that struggle with work stress and addiction. Here at Lantana Recovery, we have specific recovery programs that cater to professionals and other working individuals that need to recover. These programs also offer the tools and techniques that can help balance recovery and work life after treatment.
Yes, we all deal with stress from time to time. But, it is important to remember that stress and pain are not the same thing. The iconic American philosopher William James once said, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” We here at Lantana Recovery are here to help mitigate work stress and make those positive thoughts the new normal.
It is normal to deal with a little stress from time to time, but when that stress becomes disruptive to everyday life, then there may be bigger issues and potential dangers going on. The truth is that much of this stress happens due to work, and large amounts of stress are specifically taken on by those in the professional workforce. Work stress can appear in many forms, and it is crucial to realize when it is taking a toll on your mental health because this toll can also lead to addiction. Here at Lantana Recovery, we have programs that cater specifically to professionals and deal with the stressors they take on. For more information, contact Lantana Recovery at (866) 997-2870.