One Good Thing
Improving the Work Experience at UCSF

Issue 121
To make our True North "Our People" efforts more visible at UCSF, this communication provides a highlight of one enhancement, story or tip intended to improve the work experience for clinicians and faculty at UCSF Health.
Micro-Stresses at Work
How to Identify and Act on Them

We are all aware of plenty of macro-stresses in our current environment: COVID, our national reckoning with racism, the financial crisis, children not going back to in-person school, as examples. The authors of the recent HBR article Don't Let Micro-Stresses Burn You Out describe another type of stress, "micro-stresses," that may be equally depleting to our reserves, but less obvious. What I like about naming these micro-stresses in our lives is that, once identified, acting on them may feel more easily under our own control. The potential for impact on our well-being is great.

Authors Rob Cross, Jean Singer and Karen Dillon describe, "Stress patterns are often predictable, and if we see them for what they are, we can build the support network, mindset, and constructive responses that we need to head them off."

The article describes research about how chronic micro-stresses at work lead to burn-out in 3 specific ways:

  1. Drain your personal capacity (the time and energy you have available to handle life’s demands)
  2. Deplete your emotional reserves
  3. Challenge your identity and values

The authors describe specific approaches and tools to counter these including:
  1. Isolate and act on 2-3 micro-stressors
  2. Invest in relationships and activities that keep less consequential micro-stresses in perspective
  3. Distance or disconnect from stress creating people or activities

Read more details on how you can identify specific micro-stresses and take some steps to minimize their impact on you in this article .