Mental Pressure at Work – When Is It Too Much?

How much mental pressure at work can we bear? Just as the body can lift a certain load, the head can endure a certain mental pressure. What are the signs to watch for at work to avoid the point of no return that would blow the relief valve.

“It’s important to take the time to rest outside work, but also to take breaks during work, such as going to the coffee machine and chatting with colleagues. On production lines, it’s a little less regulated than when working in the office, but breaks are necessary,” says Julie Dextras-Gauthier, Assistant Professor in Human Resources Management at the Faculty of Administration Sciences of the Université Laval.


Technologies can be positive, but can also feed what is called “technostress”. “In short, it’s the impact the use of new technologies has on rest time. To remain effective, it is absolutely necessary to learn to recharge our batteries and not think about work. Most people have jobs that allow it, but it may be more difficult for emergency physicians or on-call workers,” notes Julie Dextras-Gauthier.

Thanks to information technologies, we can respond and work from wherever we want, whenever we want. We gain independence, but on the other hand, working hours are extended. “It’s insidious, you end up struggling to disconnect from work. There are even those who set their cell phone on their night stand, so they don’t miss anything,” says Mrs Dextras-Gauthier.

Hence the importance of watching out for the distress signals our bodies might send us, such as a loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems and upset stomach.

Avoid mental pressure at work by disconnecting 

The FOMO (fear of missing out) phenomenon is very real. “At work, everyone can suffer from it. There is no job category that is not affected, because it’s related to new technologies. We can be connected just about anywhere,” says Julie Dextras-Gauthier.

To be effective, it’s essential to make time for rest and to set time slots to answer work calls and emails. “There will always be problems at the office,” continues the assistant professor. “You have to know how to measure what you are able to take, and also to close the books and exercise a relaxing activity, whether it is reading, meditation or walking.”

Because of the magnitude of the phenomenon of “non-disconnection”, the Disconnection at Work Act was adopted in 2017 in France. “Aside from an emergency physician or a day care worker, employees are not required to answer emails outside office hours. In Quebec, we are not there yet, and it is not documented, but the danger is looming,” concludes the human resources management specialist.

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