While researching stress, we’ve also come across a few great examples of famously “stressed out” characters from TV and movies.
Can you relate to any of their stress?
5. Piglet (Winnie the Pooh)
Piglet was many of our earliest examples of stress. Piglet is afraid of everything. He’s always waiting for the worst case scenario, and it causes him almost never-ending stress. He’s scared of balloons, beehives, surprises, monsters… the list goes on.
Don’t let fear of the worst case scenario stress you out, and don’t let it prevent you from taking risks that could grow your career. Bad things happen; but exerting energy worrying about them is a waste of time.
Think instead about all the things that could go right. Focus on the positive and the potential, not just the risk.
4. Emily Charlton (Devil Wears Prada)
This quick scene from the film Devil Wears Prada perfectly captures the high-stress tightly wound personality of Emily Charlton, the first assistant to Miranda Priestly at Runway magazine. Between a demanding boss and a fast-paced industry, Emily always seems to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Some people thrive on this strain of high-intensity stress, while others are less productive when they’re this pressured. It’s important to know what camp you fall in and what environment allows you to produce your best work. If you’re working at a demanding company or for an intense manager, make sure this is the kind of challenge you want.
3. Wesley Gibson (Wanted)
His job isn’t demanding; it’s downright boring. Yet the monotony can be just as stress-inducing as a challenging role: Wesley can’t leave, and he can’t get ahead. Wesley does the same thing every day, and his stress is killing him.
In Wanted, Wesley escapes this stress by angrily quitting and becoming an assassin. But we don’t all have that luxury, and it’s probably not a smart career move long-term. If you’re truly so bored or unhappy at work that it’s causing you stress, consider whether the current role is the right fit.
2. Andrew Nieman (Whiplash)
In Whiplash, Andrew’s dream is to be the best drummer of all time. When a prestigious mentor takes Andrew under his wing, Andrew strives to be perfect… but his efforts are never enough. He constantly pushes himself, and his stress takes a toll:
It’s not bad to push yourself to improve, or to want to be the best. But it’s important to recognize when this level of stress is unhealthy and unproductive for your growth. Whether you’re in Andrew’s shoes and have a hard-driving manager, or you’re pushing yourself this hard… sometimes it helps to take a step back to reassess.
Stress can be a great motivator, but if you’re hitting Andrew’s levels (think: bloody drums), maybe you need a break to gain some perspective.
1. Nina Sayers (Black Swan)
Nina is a competitive ballerina who develops a dangerous rivalry with her fellow dancer Lily over the starring role in Black Swan. As the dancers’ battle builds, Nina’s stress builds, until she loses her grip on reality and begins to hallucinate and have episodes.
Beyond her compulsion to be perfect, Nina’s anguish is rooted in her conflict with Lily. She can’t stand to be second best.
This kind of rivalry is common in the office (just usually without the dancing). It’s good to use competition to motivate yourself, but don’t let the stress consume you. Remember that in the workplace, you’re probably working toward the same goal.