The Worker Stress of the Union

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For those concerned with stress as we navigate the new world of work; healthcare was a standout in President Obama’s State of the Union Address.

“The biggest driver of long term debt, is long term Healthcare,” the president said. But the overall health care system is about to be pummeled by changes which will have cross-generational implications, as the nation sees a new infusion of people as the American Care Act kicks in.

Ultimately, more Americans in the pipeline might create new challenges. Perhaps more of a concern, it could mask a deeper problem.

In my recent Forbes.com post The Stress Trophy Should Not Just Go To Millennials, I wrote about the American Psychological Association’s latest Stress in America survey which suggests that people in general, no matter their generation, are not getting the help they need from their healthcare providers to manage “unhealthy stress.”  That’s the kind of stress that can lead to chronic illness and long term workplace implications such as absenteeism, lower engagement and attention crash among workers.

By definition our workplaces are rife with uncertainty as high unemployment still rules the school and the economy still teeters on the precipice of who knows what.

The economy is certainly a big trigger for stress, and the current state of the workplace inherently provides plenty of stressors as a result. You can read more about that here.  But the responsibility of tackling work stress can not just fall upon health care providers or changes within the workplace culture. It’s a joint effort which must be also championed by individual workers who are waking up to the reality that navigating the new world of work needs a tad more attention, lest more people head into burnout.

Essentially we have to be our own advocates especially as we navigate the intersection of the working and living experience as I wrote in this post: Being Your Own MVP in the Work-Life Merge.  Planning the use of our time efficiently, while engaging in self-care saves aggravation and helps to alleviate stress for most people.

Recent research as cited in Sue Shellenberg’s Wall Street Journal article Are You Hard-Wired to Boil Over From Stress (Full disclosure: I was quoted in the article) finds that some people might be hyper-reactive to stress

I wonder though if expanding technology in an always-on world makes us all a little more on edge and reactive to stress than a decade ago. Perhaps we could all use a little stress test. What do you think?