Pressure, Stress, Depressed and Depression.

"Is all of this resiliency stuff that you talk about really that important Lance?" I was asked recently. Of course you would know what my response was, "Yes". If you don't start taking notice of what is happening to you in this busy world that we live in you may be taken down without you even knowing it.

There are a few ways of getting depression, of becoming unwell as I refer to it, the most common one today for leaders and managers is from burnout. Who would have thought that working hard could hurt you? It can and it does. And it is killing people on a daily basis as a result.

In a work context, often the way in which people 'fall over' is when they are placed under too much pressure. Pressure is good for us, it excites us, stimulates us, keeps us focussed and we are often at our best when under pressure. Pressure is usually lots of things to do and not enough time to do them in. Pressure is mostly from an external source. We can all handle a bit of pressure from time to time, in fact we need it to keep us motivated.

However, when pressure becomes relentless, we may become overwhelmed if we aren't looking after ourselves. And that can lead to us thinking that we are under stress. Never ever think that, when you do so there are neurological changes that occur and your body will react accordingly. Stress is internal, it is you telling yourself that you are stressed. No person can make you stressed, or stress you out, it is simply your internal reaction to their external action. Instead, tell yourself that you are "busy" and that you need to slow down. In short, replace the word stress with busy.

If you keep telling yourself that you are stressed, you may become depressed. Being depressed is not the same as depression. Being depressed is generally a low mood from either being too busy or you are in a rut. If someone tells me that they are depressed, I ask them what is making them feel down. People become sullen, unmotivated, lethargic when they have been under lots of pressure and can't see a way out.

At this stage, if you have been under pressure for too long and perhaps telling yourself that you are stressed, you could go into depression. There is usually a catalyst at this point, something unintended, comes out of the blue. Often it is something personal that strikes us in our heart. Negative thoughts flood in, we isolate ourselves from others, become moody, have trouble focussing, start making mistakes, try to keep busy, and worst of all, don't tell anyone as we try to work through it alone.

While this is usually the pattern that we go through when work gets the better of us, there are variables. Know that if you are doing a lot of self-talking, trying to keep yourself busy, not going out as much as you use to, not wanting to talk with others, have lost the urge to do spontaneous things, don't smile as much as you once did, and cannot look others in the eye, then you need to make some changes at work.

Tomorrow I will talk about how to push back when pressure is mounting at work. Pressure is a good thing, too much of it can be detrimental to your wellbeing. Prevention is the key, and this is achieved through balance.