What is Workplace Stress?
Workplace stress is defined as a harmful physical or emotional response to prolonged stress related to your work environment. Some workplace stress can be a good thing, but excessive exposure to stress, combined with poor coping strategies can affect job performance, home life, mood, and increase your risk for chronic conditions. Studies show that harmful work-related stress has progressively increased decade after decade. Today we are going to be discussing meaningful ways to manage stress related to the workplace.
What are the Causes of Workplace Stress?
Stress is a highly personal experience; what stresses one person out may not cause stress for another individual. On top of this, stressors will vary from workplace to workplace. For example, a classroom full of kids may be the cause of stress for a teacher while an ongoing emergency may be a stressor for a first responder. This makes it difficult to identify all of the factors that contribute to stress in the workplace and consequently make it difficult to address. We can, however, identify a few common stressors among the workforce. According to the American Institute for Stress, a few of the most common stressors include:
- Juggling work and personal life
- Lack of job security
- Social issues
Although we cannot control every factor leading to stress in our work environment, we can adopt healthy ways to cope with stress. Let’s explore ways to cope with stress:
Reach out for Help
Reach out to peers. If you feel that you are being exposed to excessive stress in the workplace, the first step is to reach out. Sharing your experience with your peers can be a good way to identify common stressors in your workplace and brainstorm ways to cope. Face to face interaction with people who may be experiencing the same stressors can help you get your stress off of your chest – so to speak.
Reach out to your direct manager. Let someone in charge know that your workload is negatively impacting your life or damaging your productivity. This may help alleviate your heavy workload by delegating tasks to other members of your team or possibly interns. It may also be beneficial to discuss best practices with your manager to see if they have any tips for being more efficient.
Talk to HR. If your work-related stress has started to affect your health, it may be time to talk to human resources. Remember, your HR officer is there to protect you and provide you with useful information in handling stress.
Get Adequate Exercise Each Week
The positive effect that exercise has on stress is well documented. We know that exercise improves our well being and adds vigor and energy to our day. But did you know it can also help your body fight the effects of excessive exposure to harmful stress?
How does exercise improve stress? There are a number of things happening in your body when you exercise. First, exercise increases your endorphins or “feel good” chemicals and helps regulate your mood. When your body is producing more endorphins you will feel more focused, relaxed, and energetic. Having a better mood and feeling more focused may help you tackle your everyday tasks with a little more peace of mind.
Exercise can also be a good distraction from lingering responsibilities and tasks. Maybe you have an important deadline coming up, or a difficult test, or maybe you just have so many tasks to complete that you cannot stop or control worrying. Daily exercise can help ease your mind by giving you an activity to concentrate on, relieving your mind of other worries. Think of it as “moving meditation”. Click here for our Pack Moves youtube channel.
Get Enough Sleep
We all know the importance of getting enough sleep at night. But did you know getting adequate sleep can also improve stress?
Feeling tired at work after less than enough sleep can adversely affect your productivity and work performance. This can lead to issues of feeling a lack of job security or worrying that your workload is too much to handle.
The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Click here for a few ways to get better sleep!
Take periodic walking breaks throughout the day. Aim for 10-15 minute breaks every hour or every other hour. Giving your brain a chance to step away from the task at hand and take in other stimuli can be the refresher you need to stay productive and fresh for the remainder of the day. Studies show that walking and taking in your surroundings can improve mood, productivity, and focus. If walking is not accessible to you, use your 10-15 minutes to practice meditation or breathing exercises or get caught up on emails or other small tasks.
If your stress is caused by excessive workload or demands it may help to get organized. Creating a list of tasks you need to accomplish by the end of the day, week, or month can be a good way to visualize the progress you are making and keep track of completed tasks. There is also a level of satisfaction to physically remove or cross out an item on your to-do list.
Experiment with different methods of task management like bullet journaling, using a calendar, or a simple daily to-do list.
Talk to your Health Advisor
If none of these strategies have worked for you, reach out to your Health Advisor for help. They would love to brainstorm individualized ways to improve your stress.
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