Workplace stress is a common problem across companies, but it is a problem which leads to attrition as well as procrastination and reduced productivity in the long term. According to the American Psychological Association, a third of workers in America suffer from chronic workplace stress. The same is the condition in any country that you go to. This is because there are many reasons that stress can be added in your mind from various factors in your workplace.
It is not completely possible to eliminate work-related stress. Any job can have an element of stress even if you love what you do. There may be pressure to meet deadlines or fulfill a challenging situation. However, when workplace stress becomes chronic, not only can it be overwhelming but it can also have harmful effects on your body and emotional health.
Sources of workplace stress
There are many factors that have been noted to cause workplace stress. Some of the common stressors at work include:
- Excessive workload
- low salaries
- Few opportunities for advancement or growth
- unchallenging work/work that is not engaging
- Not having social support
- Lack of control over decisions that are work-related
- Conflicting demands/Unclear expectations of performances
1) Effects of workplace stress
The problem with office stress is that it disrupts your personal life as well and it is generally carried even home and it will not disappear when you have reached home. If unchecked, it will take a toll on your well being and health. Stress at work can lead to short-term problems like headache, sleep disturbance, difficulty concentrating and short temper.
On the other hand, chronic stress will cause anxiety, high blood pressure, insomnia as well as a weakened immune system. This could also cause problems such as obesity, heart disease and depression. The problem can be worsened by the fact that people who suffer from the condition usually deal with it in unhealthy ways such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and overeating.
How to manage workplace stress – There are several steps that you can take to manage your workplace stress. These include:
2) Find out your stressor
You can keep a weekly journal to help you identify the situations that are creating the most stress and how your respond to these situations. Record your feelings, thoughts and information on your environment such as the circumstances and people involved, the actual physical setting and the way you reacted. What did you do when the stressful situation occurred? Did you engage in an argument? Did you reach for a snack? Did you take a walk? This will help you find a pattern for your stressors and how you react to them.
3) Find healthy responses
Rather than trying to fight off stress using alcohol or fast foods, try to make healthy choices when you feel the stress rising. One of the best ways of getting rid of stress is through exercising. A good choice is yoga but any form of physical exercise can be helpful. Be sure to find time for hobbies as well as favorite activities. You can engage in an activity like reading your favorite novel, playing chess with family or attending a concert. Be sure that you set aside time to do thing that will bring you pleasure. Another good way of effectively managing stress is by getting good-quality sleep. In order to have healthy sleep, limit the amount of caffeine that you take and minimize activities such as television and computer.
4) Have boundaries
It is important to establish work-life balance. For instance, you may put in place a rule to check your emails when at home or not to answer calls during dinner. While individuals have different preferences in regard to their work-life balance, it is important to have clear boundaries if you are to reduce the conflict between work and life and the stress that accompanies it.
5) Be sure to recharge
If you are to reduce the negative effects of burnouts and workplace stress, you will need to take time to replenish and get back to your pre-stress levels. You will need to “switch off” in a way that you will have periods when you will not engage in work or think about work. Go on vacations where you can unwind. When you get back to work, you will be feeling reinvigorated and you will be more productive. If it is not possible to take a day off, you can try to focus on activities that are not work related.
6) Take time to relax
There are some techniques such as meditation, mindfulness and deep breathing exercises that can help to get rid of stress. For a start, you can take a few minutes everyday to focus on activities such as walking, breathing or even enjoying a meal. With time, you will be able to develop the all important skills of focusing on one activity at a time without getting distracted.
7) Talk to your seniors
When employees are healthy, they are usually more productive. This means that your seniors will be interested in creating a work environment that promotes the well-being of employees. You can begin by engaging in an open conversation with your boss. This should not be to complain about work but the conversation should focus on effective ways of managing the stressors at work. The plan should also help you to improve your salient skills like time management.
8) Say “no” when necessary
You will get stresses if you become overworked or overcommitted. Many times, we say “yes” to everything because of the fear that we will not be liked. You can always say “no” in a firm but polite way. Explain that you have more commitments than you can handle. It is also possible to tell your boss that you cannot handle more work. All you need to do is to explain that by accepting one more project, it will mean that the quality of your work will go down.
9) Seek support
It is important to seek support from family members and friend so as to be able to manage your stress. There may also be resources to help with stress management at your workplace such as counseling. If you find that the stress at work is overwhelming you, you may need to see a psychologist.
10) Manage your expectations
This point will not help you only in workplace stress, it will help you throughout life. You need to manage your expectations at all times to remain stress free. If you are a perfectionist, then you need to understand that perfection takes time. You cant be impatient and perfectionist both. So you need to manage your expectations as per your own personal abilities and as per the job expectations. Performing superbly in the short term which leads to stress and lethargy in the long term is not advisable.
Thus, above are some of the pointers which will help you manage workplace stress. As the problem arises due to long term actions, it will take some time before you are able to get rid of the stress. Have patience, and regularly check your calendar to ensure that you are planning well in advance and you are managing your expectations thereby avoiding stress altogether.