Sunday, 12 January 2014

Why is 'pressure' the in thing these days?

Sometimes we can feel like this. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
It is astonishing that, in the age where there is so much new technology, that our lives are busier and busier. And work is possibly more stressful than since I've been born, certainly since I started working. Or is it such a surprise? Is technology partly to blame?

It has almost become a badge of honour to be able to 'thrive under pressure' in the workplace, and outside of work too. If you can keep your calm when faced with a stupid load of things to do, then you've got your shit sorted, apparently. Not so long ago, I read six sample CVs off a website. And without exception, the personal statement included the words 'I am able to work well under pressure'. It's what employers seem to like these days, particularly since the recession, when two people's jobs have often been put onto one person because companies did not have enough money to keep a sensible amount of employees.

But do people really thrive under pressure? Personally, I doubt it. There's nothing necessarily wrong with a healthy amount of pressure, and sometimes having deadlines to meet can be a healthy incentive, and motivate you to get the work done - as long as you don't suffer in the process.

But we have crossed well over the line of healthy pressure. I dread to think of the true extent of work stress in the UK these days. I believe many more people are suffering due to overwork and exhaustion than we realise. A lot of people are so scared of losing their jobs (and, more so, their monthly salary and their house) that they won't tell their boss how they are feeling, even if inside they are almost dying - and this is understandable sometimes, depending on the environment someone works in. Fortunately, I have a boss that is very approachable, but not all bosses are like this.

When people get tasks piled on top of them, even when they already have more than enough on their plate, that's when it becomes unhealthy pressure. It's not heroic to try and keep going and be a real warrior when things become like this. Otherwise the feelings will just build up and build up, and one day cause you to explode.

Maybe part of the reason that our work environments are so stressful these days, is because we are so privileged in this country with technology, cars, nice houses and the like, that subconsciously, we feel we don't deserve all this good stuff, and that there has to be something to balance it out. There is a huge scarcity mentality in the UK at the moment - people are afraid of losing the good things they have. We also have a culture where we think people deserve to get money if they work hard - so maybe the perception is that the harder people work, the more deserving they are of their money.

Technology has moved so fast and our work environments have certainly not moved at the same pace. Our government is doing its best to move things backwards rather than forwards in this respect. And technology certainly hasn't helped our relationship with nature a great deal - nowadays, it is so sad to see youngsters on their phones all the time. Children who say they enjoy being out in nature would probably be classed as weird. Maybe technology is part of the reason that more, more, more work needs to be done by so many employees these days - but not the only reason.

I am not ashamed to say that I hate being put under so much pressure, and I think it's about time that this crazy work culture starts to change, or at least get questioned. Overwork doesn't necessarily cause productivity - it just causes more and more work. In my previous company, people were on a scandalously low wage and some of them did huge amounts of extra time without getting any extra pay for it, just so that they could keep their heads above water. I did a fair bit of extra time and it was a killer - hence I try not to do much extra time in my current job. My previous company really were something else, and quite rightly have gone bust now - but this is by no means an isolated situation. You hear of companies like Amazon and Tesco treating their staff like shit. Hospitals and NHS staff are being pushed to breaking point by this ****ing 'targets' culture (and if there is one word that I could eradicate from the workplace, 'targets' would be it). Teachers are under so much pressure now that it must be so hard for them to enjoy the job they wanted to do.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

But this nation, as a whole, could do with changing its attitude towards work a little - and be less tolerant of the pressure and targets culture that has caused so much stress. The body was not built to be on the 'go, go, go' all the time. We need time to rest and relax, and people are working too long hours for too little reward at the moment. It may take time - but fingers crossed things will change in the coming years.

Part of the reason we find it stressful when people put undue pressure of us, is that we are our own worst enemies at times and put a lot of pressure on ourselves. I get annoyed with myself when I don't get things done. I get annoyed with my body when it tells me I cannot do a particular thing and that I need to rest and relax. We can be very impatient with life - whereas the reality is that life doesn't race and rush - and maybe the workplace culture reflects our belief that things should be happening quicker than what they do.

It is good to get things done that will help us, and it is good to take action. However, it is not good to do so much that our bodies become exhausted. Maybe we need to lower our expectations of what we 'should' be doing, and be patient when things aren't moving as quick as we'd like.

Perhaps, if we started putting less pressure on ourselves, then less pressure would come from outside?

I welcome your thoughts on this topic. What experiences do you have of being under pressure? Do you work better under pressure?



  1. Patience is key, not always easy though. So much pressure from society and also from past tapes playing but it becomes easier when I remember to breathe LOL

  2. yep so true, you know this better than many, I hope you don't forget to breathe :D

    1. Me too LOL sorry I don't always reply to your replies, I never get told. That is good thing about disqus I get told lol


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