Finding the tipping point
Figuring out when stress goes from positive to negative is tricky. Chronic stress almost always means you’ll reach a tipping point, says Petti, which can harm your career.
That’s the opposite of stress that comes up only during the most nerve-wracking projects or busier times of the year, which eventually subsides without negative influences, explains Petti. It’s the long-term stress that will ultimately affect both your physical and mental wellbeing, with reactions that include heart palpitations, stomach problems and having trouble making decisions, he adds.
Most people fail to recognise the latter until it’s too late. “There’s a tendency to under-evaluate long term stress conditions,” Petti says.
So how do you become aware of your own tipping point once subjected to chronic stress? The answer may take some digging.
Previous experience can play a huge role in how you handle stress and deciphering your own personal tipping point, says Ron Bonnstetter, senior vice president of research and development at TTI Success Insights, which specialises in workplace performance in Scottsdale, Arizona in the US.
Dealing with stress over time can break down the body’s ability to deal with short bursts of stressful situations, he says. Stress affects workers based on previous experience, and symptoms can emerge as physical, emotional, cognitive or behavioural, according to TTI’s research.
“We haven’t isolated stress in the workplace,” says Bonnstetter. “We carry baggage from all aspects of our lives and our reaction can be [unpredictable] when some of those triggers occur.”