Do you even know how stressed you are at work?


“I’m really dying here! I’m chasing deadlines every single day and my boss is unbelievably picky, and my colleagues aren’t helpful at all!” How many times have you caught yourself saying this throughout the month? It’s like an endless loop of working with pauses to complain in-between. According to the Hong Kong Mental Health Index, last year, around ¼ of interviewees reported that they were negatively or very negatively influenced at work. And this is serious, that’s 1 in 4 people. What’s worse, is that most people aren’t able to recognize their symptoms! So, let’s reflect a little, and see if you have any of the following symptoms, before it’s too late.

1. The Monday Blues

You’ve had a nice break over the weekend, so how come you’re still tired going to work? And you know it’s not laziness! Instead, this lack of energy is common way our bodies physically react to stress. A good way to combat this type of stress is to do the opposite of taking “more frequent breaks” or “sleeping more”. Instead, find time to do some sports, hikes or any physical activity as it’s been proven to improve the quality of your sleep and re-energise you for the coming week.

2. Reduced capacity to concentrate or make timely decisions

As time goes on, your workload appears to be getting greater and greater, and for some reason your productivity seems to be simultaneously dropping?! This isn’t because you’ve spontaneously become less capable, it’s because your brain, in a bid to protect itself, has started to shutdown certain functions which reduces your ability to concentrate. My computer starts to lag after being on too long let alone my brain! This is of course much worse if your boss starts to misinterpret this behavior as a lack of efficiency on your part. A good approach here, is to have an open discussion with your boss, re-evaluate your current schedule and see if you can reduce that OT routine.

3. Muscular tension

Do you remember having muscle pain before things became so hectic? Is it because you’re sleeping too much? Of course not! Muscular tension can be a clear indicator of stress. Especially after sitting in an air-conditioned room for an entire day with a bad posture. If you don’t relax your muscles before going to bed, things will continue to get worse.

4. Irritability

Your client keeps requesting changes, again, and again. You’ve spent twice as long as you should have on this piece of work, and you’re finally leaving the office. Then, your boss starts bombarding your whatsapp with follow-ups. At this point, you’re mad with rage, and reply to your boss with your last bit of patience, followed by a fake smiling emoji. You now instantly scold your boss in your friends whatsapp group until they can all feel your anger..! If work has already consumed all your patience, what’s left for your friends and family? If you don’t want to lose people around you, you’ll need to be aware of these types of signals.

5. No more social life

Thank god it’s Friday! How about a meal with friends after work? Nope. Have some drinks instead? Nope. After you’ve rejected these offers a few times, your anti-social preference will become well known and the invites from colleagues will soon evaporate. In the past, work might have been tough but you always looked forward to socializing at the end of week and during weekends. Whereas now, you want nothing more than to stay alone. The more stressed you are, the more hesitant you come to talk to people and the less you socialize. It’s because you feel like your smiles have become fake, and no one wants to be fake all the time. If work is ruining your social life, don’t just let it be. Instead take steps to change your current situation.

If some or all of the symptoms above apply to you, it’s time to either talk to your boss, or take proactive steps to resolve this issue yourself. Tolerating it is undoubtedly the worst thing you could possible do.

Naomi Chan

Career Coach and professional career hacker at Team Vanna

3 min read

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