Updated 2/15/2021. Originally published 3/15/2017.

Stress at Work?  3 Strategies to Consider

Over the past decades, many people have been suffering from job stress. Even today, you will see lots of employees who experience depression and stress.

Stress in the workplace is displayed in several ways including: 

  • Employee burnout
  • Displays of disrespect
  • Exhaustion
  • Problems sleeping
  • Loss of Interest
  • Depression

According to a Harvard Health Publishing article entitled “How to Handle Stress At Work,  a certain level of job stress is normal and can provide team members with the motivation and energy to meet their day-to-day work-life challenges.

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What are the sources of work stress?

Although we may recognize a team member is under stress, we may want to examine the root cause. When we notice the above signs of stress, ask questions, and observe current working that could be causing the stress load.

A recent CDC article reported highlights findings from a Northwestern National Life study indicating that 40% of workers report their jobs are “very stressful”, with a Yale University study results reporting 29% of workers report similar stress levels.

There are many factors resulting a person to feel anxious.  For example:

  • Challenging physical work environments (e.g. air quality, noise, distracting open workplace etc.)
  • Lack of variety or meaningful work
  • Hectic, disorganized pace of work
  • Workload
  • Hours of work, including shiftwork
  • Abilities or skills a mismatch for the work demands
  • Lack of preparation and/or training (social and technical)
  • Limited employee’s control over work
  • Difficult workplace relationships
  • Change in the organization structure, mission, goals and how it is manage

Aside from the effect of stress on a person’s health, you may notice a drop in productivity and morale.   Recent research indicates that almost half of the employees leave their current positions due to work-related stress.  Almost 50%. Think of the impact when these workers are unable or unavailable to effectively handle the clients, customers, vendors, and projects?  

The impact on the organization’s resources and the bottom line would be impactful.    

Once the problem of workplace stress is identified and recognized, the steps to address and alleviate the impact on the environment can begin on an individual worker level and a larger scale by the organization.  

The question to ask ourselves, “What can we as individuals do to address the stress we currently feel”?  Consider the following strategies.  

 Be Aware of Your Work Self

Take notice of yourself and your reactions to extreme work circumstances and unexpected stress triggers. Some signs and symptoms of excessive work and job stress may include headaches or muscle tension, social withdrawal, stomach problems, fatigue, problem sleeping, apathy, loss of interest in the job, feeling irritable, depressed or anxious, and many more. This can make you less effective and less productive in the work, as well as make your work seem less rewarding. By not paying attention to these warning signs, bigger problems will develop. 

Focus on Your Needs

Take care of yourself by reducing work stress. You are recommended to instantly take an action as soon as your work stress interferes with your capacity to do your job, poorly impact your health or handle your personal life. When you take care of your own needs, you are better equipped to handle the challenges in the workplace.

Set Limits and Priorities

Organize and prioritize important things. Workplace and job stress will overwhelm you. Fortunately, there are easy ways you can use to recover control over the situation and yourself.

Your ability to keep a sense of discipline during stressful situations will frequently be well-received by managers, subordinates, and coworkers alike, leading to a better work relationship. Creating a balanced schedule, avoiding the impulse to over-commit yourself, and planning regular breaks are some of the time management tips to reduce your work stress.

Seek Help and Support

Finally, talking with a trained health and mental expert is a great alternative to help address any stress problems you may have experiencing at work.  

Together, you may decide that it is necessary to develop a “Plan B” alternative to the current workplace situation – possibly a job transfer, or a move to an alternate working environment as an entrepreneur. 

In either case, proactive review and planning will impact positively for your workplace life.

Read more

How to Handle Stress at Work, by Nicole J. LeBlanc and Luana Marques, 2019.  Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. Link:  https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-to-handle-stress-at-work-2019041716436

Stress…At Work, by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Link:  https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-101/#What%20are%20the%20Causes%20of%20Job%20Stress?