Regardless of occupation, seniority or salary level, everyone is spending more and more of work time feeling frazzled and out of control. While stress is a normal part of the workplace, excessive and constant stress can interfere with your productivity and reduce your physical and emotional health. Finding ways to manage workplace stress is not about making huge changes, but rather it requires you to focus on one thing within your own control: you.start to make you lose confidence, become irritable or withdrawn, and all of this at the workplace makes you less productive and less effective in your job. It is a vicious cycle and if you ignore the warning signs of work stress, it can lead to bigger physical and emotional problems not only for you, but also those surrounding you.
Here are some of the causes and influences of work stress:
- The “Dog-eat-dog” environment: this refers to a workplace environment which puts you and others into survival mode where you must succeed and do better than others, and will panic or fear when other co-workers are ahead.
- Being too stressed to notice you’re stressed: if you don’t have any time for yourself or have taken time to review your current situation, you first won’t realise that you are experiencing an unusually amount of stress and second you are unlikely to do anything about it.
- The inability to say no: if you are unable to say no to a co-workers request or taking an additional project when you don’t have the time, you are not only contributing to your workplace stress but you are also making it worse for yourself.
- Not asking for help: this is connected to number three because if you are unable to say no, you are also likely to not ask for help when you know you need it. When you are overloaded at work, putting in too many hours, or have lost control of projects this is when you need to ask for help. If you don’t, then you are again contributing to the workplace stress and making it worse than it needs to be.
- Complete burnout: this is the last stage of workplace stress and the stage you should hope you don’t get to. Once you have gotten to the point of complete and utter exhaustion, help and rest must be sought as soon as possible as this is where significant emotional and physical damage can be done.
The following are some examples of workplace stress, and if you think to yourself that you currently experience some of the examples then you should review your current workload and work environment and determine what needs to change in order for your stress levels to go down:
- Inability to sleep through the night or unable to sleep at all
- Uncharacteristic anger and frustration which affects your relationships and family life
- Inability to concentrate for long periods
- Anxiety, constant worry or fear
- Depression from the constant worry or feelings of inability to cope
- Physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach aches, ulcers, nausea
- Take “sick” days from work because it is easier to avoid work if you just don’t show up
Now that we have discussed the types of situations that can cause workplace stress, and direct examples, let’s see how you can tackle workplace stress and manage it successfully.
- Take breaks when you need them. Leaving your desk for a few minutes, taking deep breaths, walking outside all help to relax your mind and body.
- Learning to say NO when you don’t have time. People will still like you and are might even like you more once you are able to successfully delegate your time.
- Schedule time for yourself. Even if you can only commit to one hour a day, or one evening a week, this is your time to relax, and you should be doing something you enjoy.
- Surround yourself with calm, positive people because when you are surrounded by people who are stressed and negative, you will soon become stressed and negative.
- Increase your self-esteem because people with high self-esteem seldom compromise or make decisions that will harm themselves.
- Asking for help when you need it is one of the biggest ways you can tackle workplace stress because people don’t know you are stressed until you say something.
- Lastly, if work stress has been allowed to reach a level that can’t be ignored, taking a leave of absence or changing jobs might be your only and best solution remaining.