The Word “Stress” is Potentially Dangerous by Dr. Deb
The Word “Stress” is Potentially Dangerous by Dr. Deb

Is there any good reason why it’s a no-no to admit to feeling “stressed” in some dangerous work settings?

There’s a lot of tension around this word in high-risk professions. Admitting dangerous work is stressful and therefore harmful may be a sign of being enlightened, educated and open-minded about mental wellbeing. Resistance to this way of thinking is considered old school, macho, or just stubbornly ignorant. Most of us, when we think about stress, immediately think about issues in our environment which are *negatively impacting *us mentally, emotionally or physically. We are very aware that, left unmanaged or occurring in too high a dose, stress can make us sick, unhappy and hurt our performance. Despite this, if you work in a dangerous profession, you also get the message that you can’t be weak about facing the stressors of the job because it’s a sign you’re not cut out for the work. And, just maybe, your gut tells you it’s true – negative overthinking about the stresses you’re facing will distract you and being distracted is dangerous.

Well, Dr. Deb says: We’re going in circles because all of the above are actual facts. We need to be open and educated about psychological issues, especially in dangerous professions where psychological health is a critical job skill. Stubborn ignorance never improved any situation. Left unmanaged, stress can make us sick and being distracted by work stressors can be dangerous in dangerous professions.

The real problem, especially in high-risk work settings, is the way we are attempting to manage and talk about stress. The concept of stress, with all the associated negativity we now have about it, is no longer a useful way to discuss what we need to address.

I’d like to challenge you to start weeding the word stress out of the conversation. Check out this great presentation regarding the latest research about the way we talk about stress. Then, consider challenging your thinking and self-talk so they serve you better:

How to make stress your friend by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. on TEDGlobal