Stressed at work? You’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 58 percent of Americans found work as a significant source of stress. Any kind of job often comes with its own set of stressful elements.
Even if you love what you’re doing, work, inevitably, has stressors. Over the past decades, America has seen increasing levels of job stress. Work-related stress is often due to too much pressure and demands in the office. The sad truth is long-term stress has become an all too common fact in the workplace.
The most unfortunate conclusion for this may be stress at work has become a norm, but that does not mean it’s healthy. The common presence of stress in the workplace presents a problematic situation. The unhealthy scenario may result in consequences far worse than what you now see in most offices.
Common Causes of Stress in the Office
Many factors contribute to the stress you experience at work. Adverse working conditions and management practices are often the common causes of stress. Under these categories are specific contributing factors that every employee is quite too familiar with.
Here’s a list of the most common stressors in the workplace, according to Bhui et al.:
- Unrealistic demands
- Lack of social support
- Low decision latitude
- Unfair treatment
- Lack of appreciation
- Effort-reward imbalance
- Low salaries
- Lack of transparency
- Conflicting roles
- Poor communication
Imagine going to work that sets expectations beyond your job description. The struggle of not having enough support from colleagues and superiors to get the job done also affects your motivation. Management practices like lack of participation in decisionmaking is another unresolved problem in most offices. The lack of appreciation in the workplace is reflected in the lack of rewards compared with the efforts exerted.
Going through all these stressors, or even just half of them, can cause turmoil in your mental and physical health. The struggle to function at work and manage stress at tolerable levels can also affect the atmosphere in the workplace.
The Effects of Stress in the Workplace
Uncontrolled stress can create a toxic environment in the office. Daily stresses in the workplace can affect your health and wellbeing. Remember, stress is both physical and mental. Unfortunately, the constant and accumulative impact of stress comes with repercussions.
For instance, a stressful workplace can cause you to experience constant headaches and stomach aches. You may even struggle to concentrate on your daily tasks. Work-related stress can also shorten your temper, leaving you pissed and impatient most of the time in the office.
Stress at work can force you to start eating excessively or consuming unhealthy food. You may even develop unhealthy habits, such as smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol too often.
But chronic stress has it much worse. You could experience anxiety and even insomnia. With a short temper, frustrations at work could result in a high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.
Dealing with chronic stress could leave you vulnerable to health conditions like depression, heart disease, and obesity. As your body responds to these stressors, the result could increase your blood pressure, heart rate, metabolism, respiration, and blood flow to your muscles.
Picture a scene where the majority of employees feel stressed. That scenario is a recipe for disaster in the workplace. Plus, it comes with unfortunate consequences. It can affect the efficiency and productivity of employees. Their lack of motivation can make business operations suffer.
Experiencing discomfort and mounting pressures at work can also hinder you from getting the job done. Worse, you may even opt to find a different job or consider switching careers just to escape the toxic environment in the office.
But remember, your company can also help you cope with stress at work.
Effective Interventions for Increasing Stress at Work
Companies can provide interventions to alleviate the negative impacts of stress in the workplace. Through these interventions, you can divert stress into positive energy.
Research has proven that individual and organizational stress management interventions are effective in offices. These can help you to manage stress and divert it into the fuel that drives you to work productively and efficiently.
In the study by Bhui et al., the findings showed that individual psychological interventions are effective. The participants particularly cited online counseling as an example. They preferred one-on-one sessions because of their accessibility.
Meanwhile, most of the participants mentioned organizational interventions. The researchers found these interventions as management practices to show concern over the wellbeing of employees. The participants revealed they found a supportive group with improved communication in this setup.
But keep in mind that these interventions intend to educate employees in managing stress. Dealing with it individually is still necessary so you can manage stress on your own in the long run.
Coping Mechanisms for Stress
Interventions are helpful, but they can only do so much unless you help yourself deal with stress. Manage stress well by being resilient. Yes, resilience is what you need to handle stressful situations at work.
Here are steps on how you can develop resilience:
- Identify your stressors and track them. Keep a journal and monitor which situations stressed you out and how you responded during such incidents. Find the patterns of your stressors to deal with stress better.
- Try healthy responses. Instead of stress eating, smoking, or drinking alcohol, try exercising. Or you can try reading a book to take a break from the stress caused by your tasks in the office. Basically, any healthy habit will redirect your stress in a positive drive while you work.
- Build boundaries. For instance, as soon as you get off of work, make it a rule not to check your email or refuse to answer a phone while having dinner. That way, you develop a work-life balance and, at the same time, you clear stressors off your plate.
- Practice how to relax. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness are some of the activities that can help clear the mind from the meltdown caused by stress. These techniques can help you focus properly and steer clear from distractions as you work.
- Change your mindset about stress. Reframing the way you think of stress can help you cope better and feel less anxious during stressful situations.
Stress management will improve your efficiency and productivity in the workplace. Your attitude toward stress can even serve as an example for other employees going through the same stress you are experiencing.
Work can be overwhelming at times, but, then again, that is how most jobs are. If stress is your worst enemy, resilience will help you use it as a powerful and effective resource in the workplace. Resilience will help you make conscious choices and turn stress and challenges into opportunities.