A lot of us stress about work, but when we do, we do not stress about the same thing, often not even the same types of things.

An example

He and I used to run into each other often, usually as we were both walking our dogs to the park. We would stop and chat, always pleasant, part ways a few minutes later. I am not sure what exactly happened, perhaps our routes changed slightly or perhaps our timing did, but those encounters became more sporadic after a while and eventually close to a year had passed since we had seen each other last. Life was busy and frankly, I barely noticed how we had lost touch.

So one day, we did happen to be out in the same neighborhood, at just the right time again. After the initial pleasantries, us both vaguely becoming aware that it had been many months since we last talked, we chatted for a few minutes. I had been struggling with a lot of stress at work, juggling many projects and commitments, not finding enough downtime. A sense of exasperation was probably close to the surface that day, though I provided no details and rather soon redirected the conversation: “And what about you? How have you been?”

There was a brief pause, then he replied “aw man, it’s been rough, honestly. I lost my job about eight months ago. Been trying to get a new one ever since …”

Oh. Wow.

We continued talking for a few more minutes, then said our good-byes and went our separate ways again. It has been a few years now, but the memory of that conversation has stayed with me.

Naming it

We were clearly worrying about different things at that time, our mental images not closely related.

The label by itself is not descriptive. For one person work stress can mean too much work, for another not enough. Those are only two of the many causes you might find for being stressed about work.


Stress can of course be challenging and this is not to take away from the struggle, but could it be that someone else would be happy to be dealing with your problem?

Some time ago, you were someone else yourself. You experience anything about something because of the thing and because of you. Excitement, joy, struggle or pain — matters of perspective. What changed?



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