If you are currently working, you are very likely to understand what it feels like to be stressed at work. Sometimes a must-do task arrives and you don’t have a clue, phones won’t stop ringing, assignments/projects appear like a never-ending loop, meetings are always scheduled when you have something else to do, and everyone will just keep adding to what you already have on your plate.
WHO defines work-related stress as “the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope”. This is an evolving issue around the world that not only impacts the health and wellness of workers, but also the productivity of organisations.
Imagine it’s a Friday evening, you’re laying on the sofa and binge-watching your favorite series when a notification pops up on your phone- it’s your boss who has texted you about an unfinished document. You start to panic and stress about it and think how you’re going to get this done because if you don’t, chances are that you might get fired. So you switch the T.V. off and work late at night to complete the task. It may sound normal because it happens so often, but t is exactly how work stress feels.
How do you know when work stress is too much?
Stress isn’t always bad. A little stress can help you remain focused, enthusiastic, and help meet new challenges. This is what usually keeps you on your toes during presentations or cautious- preventing accidents or costly mistakes. But working in today’s world is an emotional roller coaster. Extended hours, tight deadlines, and raised demands leave you feeling anxious, exhausted and overwhelmed. When stress exceeds your ability to cope, it stops being beneficial and starts causing harm to your mind, body and work satisfaction. If the stress is hampering your performance, health, or personal life, it’s time to take action because the increase in work-related stress often results in Burnout. For many people, work-related stress usually turns out to be an unbearable burden. Often people tend to keep their heads down and carry on with the work despite their feelings and knowing the fact that deep down they are struggling.
Here is how stress impacts your life- these are also some symptoms that might help you understand and analyse if you or someone around you has work stress.
They are categorized into 3 parts: Physical, Psychological and Behavioral.
- Difficulties in sleeping
- Muscular tension
- Heart palpitations
- Upset stomach
- Dermatological issues
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Cognitive difficulties, such as decreased concentration or struggling in making decisions.
- Increased absenteeism
- Decreased creativity and initiative
- Dropped performance
- Problems with interpersonal relationships
- Mood swings and irritability
- Low tolerance
- Frustration and impatience
- Feeling uninterested
Work-related stress can be caused and triggered by various events in our day-to-day life. Some common aspects that cause work-related stress include:
long working hours, rigid deadlines, changes in duties, harassment, discrimination, job insecurity, poor relationships with co-workers or bosses, changes in the organisation, lack of freedom, lack of proper resources, lack of equipment, insufficient skills for the job, limited promotional opportunities, over-supervision, boring work and poor working environment.
Are there ways to avoid work stress?
We often observe people asking about the ways to stay focused throughout the day, if it is possible to get done with everything and still have energy left after work. How can they keep calm under so many demands? All this is possible by managing and avoiding work stress. Some ways to avoid work stress include:
- Act rather than react.
- Eat and sleep well.
- Take a deep breath
- Eliminate any interruptions
- Make a list of your priorities
- Be your own best critic
- Reset your panic button
- Know your deadlines
- Set milestones and reward yourself for each milestone you achieve
- Take breaks
How does preventing and avoiding work stress help in the workplace?
Avoiding and preventing work-related stress helps improve mental and physical health, increases productivity, reduces sick leaves, absenteeism and staff turnover, provides greater satisfaction, results in more engagement at work and results in fully utilizing your time.
What are some things I can do to reduce and deal with my work stress?
If you are someone suffering from work stress and want to work on yourself, here are multiple ways that might help you out:
- Consider making changes in your work that might help you reduce your stress and then make a plan of action to follow it.
- Talk about the concerns you have with your co-workers, employers or HR manager.
- Prioritize your tasks and make an organised list of tasks that you have to get done.
- Try getting done with the most difficult work in the morning because that is when you are fresh and have the most energy.
- Try yoga and meditation, regular relaxation benefits your health.
- Eat a healthy diet, Sleep on time and Exercise regularly.
- Make it a point to take out enough time for yourself and start doing daily/ weekly reflections.
- Avoid drugs, alcohol, smoking, etc., as a way to reduce stress. They won’t reduce stress but instead, increase health issues.
- Don’t take your stress out on others who are there for you, people who are caring, loving and supporting you. Instead, try communicating with them.
- Use Stress Balls
- Seek help from professional counselors for psychotherapy.
- If the stress continues to be an issue regardless of the efforts you’re putting in, you might have to consider taking up another job or changing your career.
What are stress balls? Do they really help reduce work stress?
Many of us are familiar with the famous “Stress Balls” whether you brought one from a carnival, have it placed on your desk or have seen it on social media, we all seem to know what stress balls are due to their increasing popularity over the years. At first, it can be confusing as to how something so small and simple could be that powerful. However, those small but powerful stress relievers genuinely do work and are based on studies and science. When we’re stressed, our muscles tend to clench, and squeezing a stress ball forces us to release and loosen up those muscular tissues. They help us lessen anxiety and stress, promote higher sleep, decrease blood pressure, enhance concentration and creativity and give a boost to our muscles.
Is work stress a management issue?
An organisation should ensure that the employees are not facing any unnecessary stress and should emphasise on Work Stress as a significant health and safety problem. Some steps that the organisations can take include:
- Creating a safe working environment.
- Discuss various issues faced by the employees and take suitable actions when required.
- Ensuring everyone is trained and skilled for the job that they are assigned.
- Talking about work stress openly and addressing it as a genuine issue.
- Come up with stress management policies after consulting with the staff.
- Build a secure space for the employees to openly talk about promotions, duties, projects, management, etc.
- Reduce the need for overtime by hiring new employees and specifying their duties.
- Provide help from or access to mental health professionals whenever needed.
- Consider the personal life of the employees and understand the work-home demands might clash.
How to tackle the stress after work? How to relax after a hectic day at work?
Many of us take our work home with us without even realizing it. Work might also turn out to be very stressful, however, when we are supposed to be relaxing from the minute we walk out of the workplace till the next morning when we return, we often let work stress follow us rather than trying to make the most of our personal lives.
Let’s look at how we bring work stress home:
- We think about it on our way from home to work or vice-versa.
- We often rant about work to our loved ones.
- Worrying about work instead of relaxing.
- We tend to torture ourselves over this.
- We keep pondering about difficult co-workers or employers
How should I leave Work Stress at the Workplace?
- Complete the deadlines.
- Tie up any free ends before you depart.
- Make a post-work routine
- Enjoy your trip back and forth to work
- Pre-plan your work for the next working day
What can I do after work to relieve all my stress?
- Ensure you have a soothing and peaceful home environment
- Reward yourself
- Go out for walks
- Reduce screen time
- Listen to music
- Watch funny, comedy movies
- Go out for dinner or cook yourself a great meal
- Do any recreational activity of your choice like painting, playing an instrument etc.
A wise man once said, “ You don’t drown by falling in the water, You drown by staying there”. If you feel like you are unable to cope up with your work stress and need professional guidance, reach out to us at HEAL with Shivtensity, and connect with doctors, therapists or counselors and address your concerns.
Occupational health: Stress at the workplace. (n.d.). World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/ccupational-health-stress-at-the-workplace
Workplace Stress: A Silent Killer of Employee Health and Productivity. (n.d.). Corporate Wellness. https://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/article/workplace-stress-silent-killer-employee-health-productivity
9 tips for how you can better handle stress at work. (2021, July 31). Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-deal-with-stress-at-work-3145273
Coping with stress: Workplace tips. (2021, June 16). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/coping-with-stress/art-20048369
Copic with stress at work. (2014, July 1). American Psychological Association.
Malone, M. (2019, June 26). What Are the Benefits of Stress Balls? LIVESTRONG. https://www.livestrong.com/article/141645-what-are-benefits-stress-balls/