A little bit of stress might actually be helpful for you in a work environment; it can make you responsible, focused, and solution-oriented.

However, stress at work can quickly escalate into something seemingly unmanageable and can interfere with your mental and physical well-being.

A study titled ‘The 35-Hour Workweek in France: Straightjacket or Welfare Improvement’ by researchers has found out that workplace stress and long hours lead to unhealthy behaviors. These behaviors have been known to play a major role in chronic illnesses such as hypertension and heart attacks. 

Artist's representation of work stress Artist’s representation of work stress (Photo Source: Healthsource)

Causes of Stress In The Workplace

Along with long working hours, some of the causes of job stress are discussed below.

  • Low Pay: According to a study, low pay and high demand for performance result in dissatisfaction and low performance among the workforce. 

  • Layovers resulting in overtime: Due to layovers and cuts in staff, one might be expected to take over additional workloads for a company. This might result in an impairment in a personnel’s work-life balance. 

  • Lack of socialization: Most workplaces encourage social interaction through training and group works. However, not all workplaces are the same, and human interactions can be limited in some of these jobs. 

  • Minimal or no control over how you do your work: Everyone has a way of doing a specific task. For example, someone might tackle the intricate details first and then move on to the bigger picture. For some, it might be the other way around. In any case, a lack of control has been found to contribute to developing health issues

The causes of stress in the workplace usually leads to an imbalance in work-life harmony and may result in a burnout. 

Signs of Stress In The Workplace 

The aforementioned “burnout” refers to the mental or physical exhaustion because of long periods of stress. Signs and symptoms of a possible burnout may include: 

  • Irritability or anxiety: When someone is dealing with stress, they are likely to be irritable, anxious, or both because of work-related stress. 

  • Apathy towards work: High job stress causes the job to be less enjoyable and thus will result in a lack of interest and carelessness in a job. 

  • Increased substance use: A study has shown that people with high work stress and lower ability to deal with it were at a greater risk of addiction. 

  • Loss of Sleep: Often, stress, and anxiety go hand in hand with a loss of sleep. Worrying too much about work can make someone sleep deprived. 

These signs are mostly psychological signs of stress. If we do not take care of ourselves and make changes that are good for our mental health, these symptoms cause physical harm such as migraine and hypertension. 

What Can You Do? 

To avoid the escalation of job stress-related symptoms, we need to modify a few existing behaviors as well. So what can we do? 

Confirm that the source of your stress is your job

In psychology, projection is a phenomenon where a person displaces their feelings, which are generally unacceptable. In this case, we might project a sense of dissatisfaction from other aspects of our lives into our work.

To make sure we are not projecting other stresses, looking at other aspects of our lives and identifying the source of stress is important. Psychologist Sigmund Freud first reported this phenomenon in 1885 in his letters.  

Recognize your triggers

Anger, frustration, anxiety, and sadness can be some of the things that stress can cause not just in the workplace but also in your day to day life.

Maintaining a journal of these feelings and identifying what triggers you can help you understand the things that are bothering you at work. When identifying triggers, what you are looking for is your stressors, and your reactions to them. 

Develop better responses to your triggers

What did you do after you felt the tension rise at work? Did you calm yourself down and looked at the problems and dissected them into pieces in your mind, or did you go out for a smoke?

Did you engage in passive-aggressive behaviors with a person that caused you to stress? When you find yourself in these situations, make it a point to calm yourself down and hear the person out. Chances are, they might not be trying to aggravate you. This is why analyzing the situation from another point of view is important. 

Maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

Research shows that high stress in jobs leads to smoking. Nicotine and caffeine come under the subcategory of drugs known as stimulants, where the brain is stimulated upon receiving these chemicals.

However, if you have stress and anxiety related to work, these stimulants actually contribute to enhancing the effect of stress. Hence, they should not be used when in stress.

Similarly, you can cut down on processed sugar, maintain a good sleeping habit, and engaging exercise to manage work-related stress. Exercise is shown to be a very good method to improve your mood.

Set Boundaries. 

The key to maintaining a work-life balance is to set boundaries. Sometimes, we get carried off in the flow of our work so much that we tend to take some of the work homes.

Take some time off for yourself; you might even choose to pursue a hobby, read a novel, or maybe also learn a new instrument. Setting time out for the things you enjoy makes you relaxed, and that leads to better moods and a good mindset to start work the next day. 

Take Breaks. 

Taking breaks in between work leads to better productivity. It also gives you time to refresh your brain and become more concentrated. You might use this time to socialize with your co-workers or go out for a breath of fresh air. 

Reach Out. 

If you have difficulties with your job, it is always a good option to talk to your supervisor or HR about it. Your company might have programs for effective stress management, available counseling sessions, or referral procedures to mental health professionals upon request.  Work Life Balance

Work-Life Balance (Photo Courtesy: Advanced MD)

Managing stress at work can be difficult but not impossible. Change comes gradually, and all it requires from us is a little bit of patience and effort.

Improving your mindset and taking care of yourself is the first thing to do when it comes to stress management.

Even if there are external factors that might be contributing to your stress, it is relatively easy to find and come up with solutions to these stressors when your mindset is right.