Merge's Blog

How are you handling workplace pressure?

workplace pressureWorkplace pressure is a reality for most people, even more so since the COVID-19 pandemic.  The unfortunate truth is that it is up to each one of us to manage and mitigate the effect of workplace pressure on our health and productivity.  Now don’t get me wrong, you may be fortunate enough to be surrounded by people in your personal and professional life who will help reduce the workplace pressure you face, but the only person you can really count on is you!

It has been a long time since I used a pressure cooker, but the other day, I had reason to pull out the one my mom gave me about 29 years ago, shortly after my husband and I got married.  I got the beans and lentils started, and then while I waited, started thinking back to high-school chemistry, which is where I first learned the science behind pressure cookers.

The science behind pressure cookers

Gay-Lussac’s (or Amonton’s) Law states that the pressure of a given mass of gas varies directly with the absolute temperature of the gas when the volume is kept constant.  The volume in the vessel stays constant, so as the temperature rises, so does the pressure in the pot, which is why food cooks so much faster in a pressure cooker as compared to a regular saucepan on the stove.  However, the science also tells us that if the temperature gets high enough, the pressure will increase to the point where it will cause an explosion.  Which would not be a good thing … for the contents of the pot, or any people nearby.  So a pressure cooker, by design, comes with a safety valve which gradually releases steam to keep the pressure from getting to dangerous levels well before if ever gets to the point of explosion.

Wouldn’t it be cool if human beings came with a safety valve too?  As a matter of fact, we do.

Humans have safety valves, just like pressure cookers do!

We’ve all been in situations where we feel pressured – at work, at home, and out and about – caused by deadlines, by other people, by challenging circumstances – and as a result, our (actual or figurative) temperature rises.  Sometimes the pressure builds to an explosive point, but most times, our safety valves kick in to release some of the steam.  These safety valves are different for different people, and most of us have several.  It could be exercise, meditation, sleeping, listening to or playing music, or simply pausing to take a few deep breaths.  It some cases, our safety valve is to walk away (at least briefly), to vent to a trusted friend or colleague, or to engage in a favourite hobby.  No matter what, it is important that you know what your safety valves are.  And perhaps more importantly, that you thoughtfully and deliberately seek them out when you can feel your pressure and temperature build.

When it comes to workplace pressure, what are your safety valves?  Are you able to find and engage them when you really need them?  I’d love to hear about your experiences.  Please comment below.

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