Stress is the psychological and physical state that occurs when an individual’s resources are not sufficient to cope with a particular situation’s demands and pressures. If you’re currently working, you probably know what it feels like to be stressed on the job. Emails stack up endlessly. A must-do project arrives without warning. Phones ring, meetings are scheduled, a co-worker drops the ball on a shared assignment. The list is endless!
How Widespread Is Stress in the Workplace?
Stress is a silent killer. It lurks in the shadows, ready to sap your energy, destroying your concentration and shaking your confidence. A study conducted in America revealed that stress costs are estimated at $300 billion a year in total annual healthcare bills. Even worse, stress is not isolated to specific industries – the problem is rampant. Staggering 65% of adults say that work is the source of their significant stress in life.
Effects of Stress
Stress triggers an alarm in the brain, which responds by preparing the body for defensive action. This fight or flight response is essential because it helps us defend against threatening situations. The reaction is biological; thus, everyone responds in much the same way to any stressful situation regardless of whether it is at work or home.
Short-lived stress episodes pose little risk. However, when stressful situations go unresolved for long, the body is kept in a constant state of activation. Consequently, this increases the rate of deterioration of biological systems. The body’s ability to repair and defend itself gets seriously compromised. Therefore, the risk of injury or disease escalates.
Numerous studies show that excess stress can cause physical symptoms such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, insomnia, chest pains, and an upset stomach. Furthermore, it’s a significant cause of mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
Simple Methods for Reducing Stress at Work
Work stress is more common than most people imagine. Finding a low-stress job, on the other hand, is near impossible. What is achievable is adopting effective coping strategies to reduce stress at your current job.
1. Identify Your Stress Triggers
Your personality and past experiences influence the way you respond to and cope with stress. The first step is identifying your stress triggers. You can do this by recording the situations, events, and people who cause you distress for a week or two. Include a brief description of each problem using the 4-W approach:
- Where were you?
- Who was involved?
- What was your reaction?
- How did you feel?
Remember to evaluate your records afterward.
2. Tackle Your Stress Triggers
After identifying your stress triggers, consider each situation and look for ways to resolve it. Changing the circumstances causing stress is often the easiest way to cope with it.
3. Keep Perspective
A stressful workplace can feel like it’s taking over your life. To maintain perspective, you should consider a couple of options. Some of the available options include taking a break, getting others’ point of view, finding a positive outlet for the stress, e.g., by adopting breathing therapy.
4. Stay away from Conflict
Interpersonal conflict takes a heavy toll on your well-being. It is a near-constant fixture of the workplace. Where possible, try to avoid people who don’t get along well with others. Nevertheless, if conflict finds you, make sure to handle it appropriately.
Know When to Seek Help
If none of this advice helps you relieve your feelings of stress or burnout, consider consulting professional help. By going for counseling, you can learn effective ways to handle stress and explore your triggers in-depth even more. In short, take care of yourself always.