Do we tend to blame stress on the workplace regardless of what is going on in our private lives?

Originally Published on LinkedIn on March 3, 2020.

Recently I published a short article titled “5 short things everyone should know about Burnout” and got two questions in return that I am going to answer in one article each.

Question One: Do we tend to blame stress on the workplace regardless of what is going on in our private lives?

I am sorry to have to say that I have no well-founded answer to this question.

This is a question where I haven’t been able to find any research to support a claim in either direction. Nor can I find any research on the topic of if people refuse to take responsibility for stress at home, and instead make work accountable for all the stress they experience.

Most research in relation to stress is in regards to work-place stress, or stress in the private life that is due to trauma. None of this research is about how people are placing blame / facing the responsibility for stress at home or work and relevant for this discussion (i.e. not trauma related). If anyone knows of published research that would answer this question, please let me know in the comments below.

“The hormones released by your body in response to stress do not know the difference”

It might be worth making an observation though: In response to stress, our bodies react the same regardless of if we are stressed at home and/or work. The hormones released by your body in response to stress do not know the difference between the two settings. If you are stressed in your private life you will be stressed at work, and the other way around.

It can therefore be argued that an employer benefits from creating a work environment with optimal (1) stress levels for all employees. It stands to reason that this would be the best way of making sure the employees can be as healthy and productive as possible. This regardless of who is to be “blamed” for the situation.

Similarly it can be argued that employees have a certain responsibility towards their employer to acknowledge when their life outside of work has become too stressful and to take action.

Next time I answer the question: Shouldn’t every individual focus on improving how they relate to pressure overall and not just at work?

  1. By optimal level of stress means that the employee has the right workload, work engagement etc. in order to feel motivated and stay focused. Too little stress and the employee will feel bored and inactive, too much and the employee will feel fatigue, exhaustion, experience anxiety etc.


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