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10 Signs You Are Under Too Much Pressure at Work

10 Signs You Are Under Too Much Pressure at Work

Workplace stress can sometimes go undetected, because you’re so busy trying to keep on top of tasks that you’ve no time to stop and look at the impact of work pressure and whether or not you’re coping with it. This article can help you track your stress levels. If you’re suffering from a lot of symptoms, consider making changes so you can avoid complete burnout.

1. Unexplained Aches and Pains

Working in an uncomfortable chair or at a desk that’s the wrong height can cause your body to become achy. But if you’re suffering from aches and pains that can’t be explained by poor ergonomics, it may be that you’re under too much pressure. According to Dr Gabor Mate, author of When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress, stress causes many more physical symptoms than we realize. Unexplained pain can be a signal from the body to alert you to the fact that you’re over-taxing yourself.

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2. Altered Appetite

If you often skip lunch because you don’t feel hungry, that could be a sign that you’re feeling the strain. When you’re having to deal with other pressures, your priorities change and eating may feel less important to your body than dealing with current work stressors. Alternatively, if you’re stuffing your face in the work canteen every day, you may be comfort eating to deal with stress. Which you do depends on your personality, but a change in appetite is a common sign of stress.

3. Sleep Struggles

If you’re struggling to get into work on time, because either you overslept or are over-tired from lying awake all night, then you may be under too much pressure at work. Changes in sleep patterns are another of those things that can go to either extreme. Your body may feel it needs more rest to gather energy to deal with stressors or you may be kept awake by your worry thoughts. It will depend on the personality and your situation, but a different sleep pattern can indicate you’re under too much pressure.

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4. Feeling Lonely

Your office may be full of your colleagues as usual, and yet you feel like the loneliest person in the world. Stress can make you feel isolated and cut off from other people, especially if you’re the sort of person who takes pressure personally. It’s as if stressors are following you like a little black cloud and no-one else could possibly understand how you feel. John Cacioppo, a professor of psychology, and author of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, points out that feeling unrewarded can lead to feelings of loneliness. Perhaps, when you’re under pressure, the imbalance between the amount of effort you put into work and the amount of reward you feel to get back causes workplace loneliness.

5. Constant Colds

When your body is under too much pressure, your immune system can become compromised. When all your resources need to go towards sorting out things at work, the body does not have enough energy left to protect itself from illness. If you seem to always have the sniffles lately, when you’re usually in good health, take a look at your workload and see if you’re doing too much.

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6. Getting Sweaty

Are you constantly needing to ‘freshen up’ at work because you’re feeling a bit sweaty? Sweating a lot when the temperature doesn’t warrant it can show that you’re suffering from stress. The reason why work pressure may cause you to sweat is that external stressors can activate the ‘fight or flight’ response in the body. This causes a surge of adrenaline, which, in turn, makes you sweat. Researchers are still not clear on why this is, but seem to be leaning towards the idea that the smell produced by sweat could be a signal to others that there is danger around. A study carried out by Stony Brook University and published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience in 2011, revealed that found that people who were exposed to another person’s stress sweat became more alert.

7. Procrastinating

Believe it or not, procrastination is more often a sign of anxiety than it is of laziness. Anyone who has seen a rabbit caught in headlights knows the rabbit is not simply not bothering to move. As well as ‘fight or flight’, extreme pressure can also cause a ‘freeze response’, which means you simply don’t know exactly what to do next, so staying still seems like the most sensible option. If you’re finding that you have lots of tasks at work but can’t seem to start any, you may be ‘freezing’ under too much pressure.

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8. Being Snappy

If you have an uncharacteristically short fuse, you’re probably suffering from too much pressure. Agitation can build up inside without us realizing, and suddenly we find we’ve bitten the head off a co-worker for no real reason. If you look back at your day, you’ll probably notice how the pressure has been building from one stressor to the next, like a pressure cooker waiting to explode.

9. Anxious Thoughts

There are several categories of anxious thoughts that seem to arise when we’re stressed out. These can range from ‘worst scenario thinking’, like presuming you’ll lose your job if you don’t get a work report right, to ‘mind reading’, eg. automatically assuming that your boss will hate your latest presentation even though you have no real evidence. If you look at your anxious thoughts and they seem really unrealistic, they are probably a response to extreme pressure at work.

10. Light-headedness

Although dizziness can be caused by all sorts of things, it is often an overlooked symptom of workplace stress. If you think about the way the body works, when you’re stressed out, the fight or flight response causes us to breathe more shallowly, and our heart to speed up, preparing us to run away or enter combat. Breathing too quickly causes the arteries to contract, so less blood reaches the brain, and this can cause a feeling of light-headedness. If you’re constantly having to sit down at work or grab onto the photocopier because you’re feeling dizzy, this could be a sign of workplace stress.

NB. Before putting any of these symptoms purely down to stress, note that other illnesses can sometimes share these symptoms. While you are looking at ways of managing pressure better, please also get a physical health check.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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