Work stress is inevitable. It will happen anyway; however, this should not be the “normal” situation inside your workplace. Yet, things could happen, and you might be obliged to deal with a period of pressure at work for any reason, so you need to be prepared and know how to cope with the stressful times to avoid the negative effects for both your physical and mental aspects.
Work stress can be defined as the obligation to finish many tasks within a certain period of time, or assigning numerous tasks that should be given to several employees to only one person.
In one study done by The American Institute of stress, they found that around 40 to 80 % of American workers feel stressed at work; this ranges from mild to severe work related stress.
This article will be your guide to help manage stress at work and know the reasons behind your bad feelings towards your job.
Signs of work stress
Some signs and symptoms could raise the alarm about dealing with work related stress. Although, those symptoms are mutual with other health problems, they still can help you figure out what’s wrong. The signs include:
- Lack of concentration.
- Feeling exhausted.
- Stomach disturbance.
- Lack of self-esteem.
- Insomnia, or poor sleeping.
- Unwillingness to work.
- Muscle pain.
- Social withdrawl.
- Short temper or irritability.
- Mood swings.
- Lack of productivity.
- Back pain.
- Weight loss or weight gain.
- Short breath.
- Excessive sweating, especially hands and feet.
- Panic attacks.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Teeth grinding.
- High blood pressure.
Stressors at work
Recognizing the sources of work stress is the first step in your attempts to address or deal with the situation. Here are the most prominent stressors that could be the reason behind your bad feelings:
Poor organization hierarchy would generate distracted employees who have no idea about their specific work duties and tasks. As a result, some employees will have to carry out more tasks than they should, which in return will cause them to feel stressed.
The same thing goes with bad management that leaves the employees distracted and unorganized; hence work stress problems appear.
Significant and continuous physical exertion is one of the prominent sources of work stress that can affect both mental and physical aspects. And it could lead to many health problems in the long or short term, such as muscle pain or chronic diseases like high blood pressure, as an example.
Relationships at work
This is one of the work stressors that may sound a bit odd. But, surprisingly, 26% of the work stressors comes from personal disputes at work. This kind of pressure would cause the person to be mentally drained that he/she can’t function at work as intended.
Change of management
Going through a phase where the management or your direct manager is changing could put you under pressure due to having to adapt to a whole new system, which might leave you a bit confused until things settled down once again.
Causes of stress at work
Following are some significant work stress causes which you need to pay attention for:
- Long working hours.
- Excessive workload (which takes over around 46% of the whole stressors at work, according to the American Institute of Stress).
- Changes within the organisation of the company.
- Changes to tasks.
- Low payment.
- The feeling of underestimation, or not given the chance to grow and create.
- Low team morale.
- Work overtime.
- Job insecurity.
- Not having enough skills to carry out some certain tasks.
- Over supervision from the direct manager or the employer to the employees.
- Lack of resources.
- Exposing to sexual harassment inside the workplace.
- Discrimination or bullying.
- Bad relationships with colleagues or bosses
- Lack of support.
- Working in an environment that does not allow or severely punish wrongdoing.
- Reporting to more than one manager could cause work overload, hence, work stress.
- Poor work environment (such as bad lighting, uncomfortable chairs. inappropriate whether).
- Trauma (for example: the fire fighters, doctors and criminal investigators would experience traumas which cause them to feel stressed).
- Not dividing tasks between employees of the same team, which might leave them unorganized and confused.
Why managing stress at work is mandatory?
You necessarily need to learn how to manage stress at work for the following reasons:
- Recruiters usually look for candidates who can work under pressure as it’s one of the skills that helps build a strong team.
- Acquiring the skill of managing stress at work helps you avoid mental and physical breakdowns.
- Being able to act professionally at your workplace.
- Getting the most out of your work and you will be more productive.
- You won’t have to use all your sick leaves because of your excessive tiring.
Tips on how to handle work stress
1. Find out the reasons
Knowing the reasons is the first step towards the solution. Thus, you need to figure out your main stressors at work to find the proper approach to deal with them. Refer back to our list mentioned above that points out some causes of stress at work , or you can start journaling about your feelings, which might help you figure out why you are stressed.
.2. Set your boundaries
Mixing personal and work lives is one of the causes of work stress. It’s pretty simple; you don’t have to answer work-related phones, check your email, or plan tomorrow’s tasks while you are at home having your family cozy time. Separating work from personal life will help you control your feeling and not to feel over-stressed.
3. Morning habits matters
Making yourself some pleasing morning habits will help you start off your day right. After chasing kids in the morning, helping them to get ready for school and spending considerable time in the traffic jam, you need to regain your energy and recover your balance.
Try preparing a good cup of coffee, writing down your feeling, or even kicking off your day with writing your to-do list for the day.
4. Know what you should be doing!
You need to have a complete vision of the tasks and duties of your job role. That will make it easier for you to carry out your tasks with full understanding and to organize your work correctly as well.
5. Hone your time management techniques
Prioritize, keep a daily to-do list, split each task into small ones, and use time management techniques to accomplish your tasks. Those approaches significantly impact how you deal with your workflow, thus, help you managing work stress and pressure.
6. Avoid workplace conflicts
Personal conflicts cause you to feel pressured, try to avoid getting into such disputes to save your energy and time. Be clear and professional while dealing with your managers and co-workers. Speak directly with the HR department if you’re dealing with any unwanted conflicts, but always make sure your intention is to solve the problem.
7. Avoid multi-tasking
Multi-tasking is nothing but an illusion. It won’t help anyway, rather, it’s going to put more pressure on you. If you want to keep yourself organized and calm, try “one thing at a time” technique, which simply means accomplishing one task within a certain period of time, then start off another one respectively.. etc.
8. Allow yourself to take rest
Long working hours may affect your well-being and increase the feeling of pressure. This is why it’s essential to get some rest, have some “me time,” or getting around with people you love.
Try having at least 30 minutes each day doing something you enjoy, practicing hobbies, exercising, or relax with some music on. This helps reduce work stress and tension.
9. Approach your manager
The purpose is not to express your anger or irritation only. It’s a way to think about alternative solutions and relieve your work stress. So try recommending some ways out while talking about your problems.
10. Consider a healthy work environment
Developing a healthy work environment, which can manifest as a comfortable chair, good lighting, enough resources, helps ease your workflow and cut back your feeling of work stress as well.
11. Have enough sleep
Good sleep advantages are numerous; one of them is reducing stress and anxiety. Having 8 hours of sleep daily is essential if you want to stay away from stress. Also, make sure to avoid scrolling through your phone before sleep for at least one hour.
12. Keep healthy relationships with your colleagues
Your colleagues are your second family. If you can form some good bonds with them, you will guarantee a support system inside your workplace. Besides, keeping healthy relationships with your colleagues will help you “feel good” about your work in general, which will eventually help you reduce work stress .
13. Watch out for signs
If you noticed that you’re experiencing something unusual, you need to take care. Consider the list we prepared for you about the warning signs that could point out that you’re under pressure. Start to find solutions if any of them are happening with you.
14. Take your breaks
Admit it! we are not machines, we need to take rests to recover, refresh and be able to function again. Even if you work under stress, you need to take minutes to rest and regain your energy.
15. Take care of your body
Being under pressure, you don’t probably have enough time to exercise or practice any form of love towards your body. Hence, you might find yourself exhausted or sick for no visible reason. It’s advisable to set aside at least 15 min. every day to exercise or to do some self care.
16. Forget about perfectionism
We know you need to do your job the right way, but being unsatisfied all the way will keep you under pressure. So consider a good strategy and put realistic criteria while carrying out your tasks.
17. Say “No”!
Saying “yes” all the time is not gonna help; you need to avoid being used because of your loyalty or dedication. When you feel overwhelmed with tasks and duties, say “no” to more tasks that would come your way.
18. Finish tasks on time
Fulfilling your tasks one by one on time will help you keep organized, and will keep you away from experiencing work stress .
19. Talk to your loved ones
Sometimes all you need is to talk to a friend or a family member; expressing your feelings and seeking support will help you cope with the stressful times. That will help you regain your balance and refreshing your energy.
20. Escape negative thoughts
Instead of focusing on what you can’t do or don’t have enough time to do, try focusing on what you can actually accomplish and start working on immediately. That will work as a motivator for you to accomplish more and to stay positive.
How can managers/ employers help alleviate work stress?
As a manager/ employer, you have the upper hand; you can change a lot to help relieve stress at work for your employees. You can consider the following points:
- Create a healthy work environment by assuring that the resources and ambiance help your employees easily accomplish their work.
- Follow up with the employees closely, get involved in what’s happening, and make sure the team is harmonious.
- Resolve any problems or disputes that may arise between the work team objectively away from blaming a particular party.
- Don’t overwhelm your employees with tasks, and assign reasonable duties for each one.
- Listen to your employees, know their problems and challenges, and make sure they feel satisfied with the workflow.
- Take the initiative to help reduce the work stress through some friendly gestures, such as celebrating birthdays or working outside for a day each month and so on.
- Allow flexible hours or work from home for some time or when needed.
- Consider doing some kind of group activities to boost the teamwork spirit.
- Tell your employees “Good job”, “You did great on that”, ” I love how dedicated you are.” People love to feel appreciated.
- Make sure each member knows the exact assigned tasks and that his/ her duties are clear enough.
- Separate between the tasks of each team member to avoid conflicts.
- Make the working hours reasonable.
- Make sure your employees are financially satisfied.
- Give your employees breaks during the day to help them alleviate stress.
- Encourage the spirit of respect and cooperation between the team members.
- Consider providing your team with enough supplies and resources to help them perform their assigned tasks the right way.
- Create an environment that appreciates creativity and progression.
- Employees must be fully secured so that they feel entirely safe while performing their job duties.
Work stress consequences
In order for us to understand why work stress is harmful, let us learn about the consequences that can result from the pressure of work , which is as follows:
Continuous work stress would cause exhaustion and sickness to the employee, which could appear as stomach problems, high blood pressure, severe headaches, muscle pain, among others.
Depression or anxiety
Work stress can cause the employee to feel stressed, anxious, or even depressed. This is because the workload or work-related problems that drains the energy and leads to bad feelings.
Stress at work may result in employees being prone to verbal or even physical violence. As a result of feeling pressured, employees may even assault each other.
Lack of productivity
It is anticipating that work stress will eventually lead to the employee feeling frustrated or tired or both, which will lead to less energy, and therefore less productivity.
Personal life issues
Stress at work would drain one’s energy that he/she can no more have the ability to handle personal issues. That will lead to more stress, and problems will start to arise. Before you enter this vicious circle, you need to solve work issues and find a way out.
Feeling stressed out may cause a person to quit work entirely. Some studies have shown that 19% of employees leave their jobs due to stress at work.
What is positive work stress?
This sounds a bit strange, but actually, positive work stress exists. This kind of stress helps you accomplish your tasks perfectly and will give you a positive push to fulfill your assigned tasks on time.
Considering positive work stress will help you differentiate between the two situations, and notice the magic you can do when you feel a bit stressed.