Why your job is never stressful

How often do you say your job is ‘stressful,’ or something similar?

Every day, every couple of days, once a week?

I wonder, when was the last time you stopped to consider what you actually mean by ‘stressful’?


It can become a habit to say our job is stressful but, what does ‘stressful’ actually mean?

The answer is: To be full of stress.

Since stress is a physical and emotional reaction we experience in response to a perceived threat to our physical and emotional well-being, the only thing that can possibly be full of stress is your body.

That’s right, only your body can be ‘stressful’.

Your job isn’t stressful – your job is simply your job.

Threat Perception

Whether your job is a fun filled, thrill a minute experience, or an energy sapping, daily nightmare, depends purely on your perception – how your brain interprets and gives meaning to it.

The fact is, nothing ‘out there’ in the world, has any meaning until our brain gives it one.

And if your brain interprets your job as a threat to your wellbeing, you’ll experience stress.

And if your brain interprets it as an opportunity to enhance your wellbeing, you’ll experience positive emotions like excitement and joy.

Try this …..

Instead of saying to yourself, or others: “My job is stressful,” say this :

I believe my job is a threat to my well-being.”

Give it a go now.

First say: “My job is stressful,” and notice how that makes you feel. Then” “I believe my job is a threat to my well-being” and notice how that makes you feel.

How different did it feel when you said: “I believe my job is a threat to my well-being?” as opposed to saying, “My job is stressful?”

Interesting isn’t it?

Focus your energy on managing the perceived threat

A key advantage in this way of talking, or thinking, about your experience is that rather than focusing your efforts on managing the effect – your experience of stress, you can focus them on managing the cause – the perceived threat(s).

When you do this, you switch from being the victim of stress, to being the proactive manager of the cause – the perceived threat(s).

When you acknowledge that you perceive your job to be a threat to your wellbeing, you can begin to explore the options available to you to, either:

  • avoid, or reduce, the particular aspect(s) of your job that you perceive are a threat to your wellbeing; or
  • challenge and change your perception e.g. perhaps what you’re experiencing is pressure and not stress?

To start the process of managing the threat, ask yourself these questions:

  • Which aspects of my job do I perceive as a threat?
  • Is that perception valid? Why do I believe this person, situation, thing is a threat?
  • Can I change my perception of the person, situation, thing?
  • Is the threat a clear and present danger or something I’m worried about?
  • Which one (or more) of my physical and/or emotional needs is at risk?
  • How can I avoid or reduce the threat?
  • Can I cope with the threat myself or do I need support?

Changing your mind-set about stress could prolong your life and enhance your wellbeing

Research (see below) suggests that people who believe they are stressed plus believe that stress is bad, unhealthy, or toxic, are more likely to die prematurely!

In the introduction to ‘The Upside of Stress – Why Stress Is Good For You (And How To Get Good At It)’ the author, Dr Kelly McGonigal shares this piece of research:

“In 1998, thirty thousand adults in the United States were asked how much stress they had experienced in the past year. They were also asked, Do you believe stress is harmful to your health?

Eight years later, the researchers scoured public records to find out who among the thirty thousand participants had died. Let me deliver the bad news first. High levels of stress increased the risk of dying by 43 percent. But-and this is what got my attention-that increased risk applied only to people who also believed that stress was harming their health. People who reported high levels of stress but who did not view their stress as harmful were not more likely to die. In fact, they had the lowest risk of death of anyone in the study, even lower than those who reported experiencing very little stress.

The researchers concluded that it wasn’t stress alone that was killing people. It was the combination of stress and the belief that stress is harmful. The researchers estimated that over the eight years they conducted their study, 182,000 Americans may have died prematurely because they believed that stress was harming their health.”

[Research Ref: High levels of stress increased the risk … Keller, Abiola, Kristen Litzelman, Lauren E. Wisk, et al. (20n). “Does the Perception That Stress Affects Health Matter? The Association with Health and Mortality.” Health Psychology 31, no. 5: 677-84.]

This finding provides a good reason why you should stop and think before saying, “My job is stressful”

The above research suggests that repeatedly saying, or thinking, “My job is stressful,” or that you are stressed, could be fuelling a vicious and potentially fatal, stress cycle. Because, if you hold the belief that stress is harmful, then every time you tell yourself, or someone else, that your job is stressful, or that you’re stressed, this statement, or thought, is interpreted by your brain as a threat to your well-being. And your survival system responds with stress! So now you feel more stressed. And if you keep on telling yourself you’re stressed then you keep adding more stress to your growing stress level.

It becomes a vicious cycle that could lead to chronic stress. Chronic stress has an adverse impact on our wellbeing.

Need help managing your stress?

If you are struggling with stress, anxiety, depression I can help you to master them and to start enjoying life fully again. Just call me on 021 056 8389 or email tony@tycoaching.nz with your name & number, or use the Book Now button below. 


Go well 


REMEMBER – “When you change your mind you change your life.”

Tony helps people of all ages live their lives free of unnecessary stress, anxiety and depression, and be happier, healthier and more fulfilled.