A Guide to Dealing with Workplace Stress

A Guide to Dealing with Workplace Stress
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It’s normal to feel pressure from time to time in work, but it becomes a problem when feelings of stress are consistent and can begin to have a detrimental affect on your overall mental and physical wellbeing. There can be a variety of causes for stress in the workplace but no matter the cause, it’s important to address the issues early before they become overwhelming. Here we will look at causes for workplace pressure and the best ways to deal with it.

Common Causes of Workplace Stress

Pressure in work can be caused by a mix of factors – originating externally and/or internally. Internal pressure often arises due to feelings of inadequacy in work and placing too many expectations on yourself. External pressure often comes from colleagues and managers who aren’t recognising you being over capacity and expecting too much from you. On top of this, issues such as chronic illness, long commute times and issues at home can all add to pressure in work.

Unregulated Stress

Allowing your stress levels to spiral and go unchecked can really take its toll on your body and mental health. Initial symptoms can come in the form of headaches, stomach problems and irregular toilet habits; constant stress can then lead to persistent insomnia, high blood pressure, depression, obesity and heart disease. It’s for these reasons addressing issues causing stress in work as early as possible is so important.

Reactions to Stress

How we react to stress in the workplace will affect our overall wellbeing. Some people will naturally thrive in stressful situations whereas others will feel overwhelmed. If you find yourself struggling in work it’s important you talk to someone – whether it’s someone in work you trust, in your personal life or a care professional. Discussing issues you’re facing helps to unload stress, reduce tension and alleviate any building resentment. Removing yourself temporarily from stressful situations can be the easiest but most effective way to reduce stress; this can be anything from taking a few minutes to get outside and get fresh air to scheduling some time off and doing some travelling. It’s also important to try to lower expectations of yourself, without viewing this as a negative. If you are consistently setting very high, almost unachievable goals for yourself then you will struggle to feel at ease in the workplace. Learning to accept that you can’t be perfect nor meet unrealistic targets will set you free from the constant pressures you place on yourself.  

Changing the Situation

Ultimately, if you feel that the external factors contributing to your stress levels aren’t going away then you will want to consider changing your current situation. Although it isn’t always easy to simply change your situation – and you will need to be flexible to some extent – it’s important to try to be assertive and refuse to accept an overwhelming amount of responsibility. Accepting a smaller workload doesn’t mean you aren’t good at your job – it means you can delegate and understand what you can and cannot do. Focus on what you can achieve rather than what you can’t.

Recognising Stress in Others

Whether you’re a manager or simply a colleague, it’s important to be able to identify stress in others. If you think a colleague or employee suddenly appears to be withdrawn, quieter or more irritable than usual, and is struggling, see if you can offer a helping hand, share their workload and let them know they are not alone. It’s important to remember that everyone experiences stress from time to time and talking about it can help alleviate the symptoms as well as bring about solutions. 

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