Workplace Stress
What is Workplace Stress

Workplace stress is the harmful physical and emotional responses that can occur when there is a conflict between job demands on an employee and the amount of control an employee has over meeting these demands. The combination of high job demands and a low situation control can lead to stress. Common causes for excessive workplace stress include:

  • Pressure to work at optimum levels all the time
  • Pressure to perform to meet rising expectations without an increase in job satisfaction
  • Increased demands for overtime due to staff cutbacks
  • Fear of layoffs.
Signs and symptoms of excessive job and workplace stress
  • Feeling anxious, irritable or depressed
  • Loss of interest in work
  • Problem sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Muscle tension or headaches
  • Stomach problems
  • Social withdrawal
  • Using alcohol or drugs.
How to Reduce and Manage Job and Workplace Stress

Some stress is a normal part of life; excessive stress interferes with your productivity and reduces your physical and emotional health, it is important to find ways to keep stress under control. The better you are at managing your own stress, the more you will positively affect those around you and the less other people's stress will negatively affect you. Steps you can take include:

  • Taking responsibility forimprovingyour physical and emotional well-being.
  • Avoiding pitfalls by identifying habits and negative attitudes that add to the stress you experience at work.
  • Learning better communication skills to ease and improve your relationships with management and coworkers.
  • Pay attention to your physical and emotional health.
  • Take things one step at a time.
  • Get moving – exercise. Exercise can life your mood, increase energy, sharpen your focus and relax your mind and body.
  • Eat healthy – select foods that keep you going and make you feel good. Eat small but frequent meals throughout the day.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation. Alcohol to relieve stress can start you on the path to alcohol abuse and dependence.
  • Avoid nicotine. Nicotine is a powerful stimulant that can lead to higher anxiety levels.
  • Get adequate rest. Stress and worry can cause insomnia while lack of sleep leaves you vulnerable to stress.
  • Prioritize and organize.
    • Create a balanced schedule – work, life balance.
    • Do not over-commit yourself – avoid back-to-back scheduling or cramming too many tasks within one day.
    • Try to leave earlier in the morning to give more time to ease into your day.
    • Plan regular breaks throughout the day. Get away from desk for lunch
    • Prioritize tasks and tackle them in order of importance
    • Break projects into small steps, then focus on one step at a time.
    • Delegate responsibility – you don’t have to do it all yourself
  • Use emotional intelligence, that is, the ability to manage and use your emotions in positive and constructive ways.
    • Learning to recognize your stress response and become familiar with cues that can calm and energize you.
    • Stay connected to your internal emotional experience to better manage your own emotions.
    • Learn to recognize nonverbal cues such as eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, posture, gesture and touch.
    • Develop the capacity to meet challenges with humor.
    • Learn to navigate conflict through active listening.
  • Eliminate self-defeating behaviors
    • Resist perfectionism
    • Clean up your act – give yourself extra time, eliminate clutter, make a to-do-list, plan your day and stick to it.
    • Think positively about work; pat yourself on the back for a small accomplishment even if no else does.
  • Dispel stress by
    • Getting time away – take a break.
    • Talking it out – share your stress with someone close to you.
    • Cultivating allies at work. Remember to reciprocate and help them when they are in need.
    • Finding humor in the situation.
What managers can do to reduce stress at work

It's in a manager's best interest to keep stress levels in the workplace to a minimum. Managers can be positive role models, especially in times of high stress. Additional measures include:

  • Improve communications
    • Share information with employees to reduce uncertainty
    • Clearly define roles and responsibilities
    • Make communication friendly and efficient
  • Consult your employees
    • Give workers opportunities to participate in the decision make process that affect their jobs
    • On scheduling and work rules
    • Balance the workload with the employee’s abilities and resources avoiding unrealistic expectations
    • Show that individual workers are valued.
  • Offer rewards and incentives
    • Praise good work performance verbally and publicly
    • Provide opportunities for career development
    • Promote an “entrepreneurial” work climate giving employees more control over their work.
  • Cultivate a friendly social climate
    • Provide opportunities for social interaction among employees
    • Establish and adhere to zero-tolerance for harassment
    • Make management actions consistent with organizational values.

For additional guidance contact your local Human Resource Representative or health care provider.

(Source: Preventing Burnout, 2010, http://www.helpguide.or)
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