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Dealing with Workplace Stress

Posted on 11-12-14 in Mental Health

stressed at work

If you have found yourself operating at a million miles an hour every day for your job and feel stressed, you aren’t alone. Much of today’s workforce is dealing with work stress caused by a number of factors which cause a number of problems. On average, 6 out of 10 workers in major global economies are experiencing increased work stress. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has found that 40 percent of workers reported their jobs to be very or extremely stressful while 26 percent said they felt they were often or very often burned out or stressed out by their work. At least a fourth of employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives.

Workplace stress can be caused by a lack of job security, stressful work conditions, a high workload, a lack of support and an inability to properly cope with stress. Ultimately, workplace stress produces negative effects as well. It can increase the risk of violence, workplace accidents and the employee turnover rate, thus lowering productivity. It can also increase absenteeism brought on by health problems such as back pain, headaches, fatigue or even depression and anxiety. Eighty percent of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half of them say they need help learning how to manage their stress, according to the American Institute of Stress. Thankfully, there are several different ways that workers can cope with, counteract and reduce work stress:

  • Recognize signs of stress: It is helpful to be able to recognize when you are stressed so you know when you need to take steps to stop it. Watch out for signs like anxiety, apathy at work, fatigue, trouble sleeping and even sudden health problems as they may be indicating that you are stressed.
  • Take care of yourself: Better nutrition and a balanced diet, a healthy sleeping pattern and exercise will help you feel less stressed and more energized. Try to make sure you eat breakfast each day, get at least eight hours of sleep and exercise. You can walk around your office during breaks or hit up the gym for an hour after work. Even walking the dog or playing with your kids after work can help reduce stress and improve your mood.
  • Stay organized: Keep an eye on your time, don’t rush and don’t overbook yourself; doing so only increases stress and will ultimately decrease your attention span and work quality. Keeping your schedule and your workload organized helps you get more work done in a timely fashion with less stress and can actually make your quality of work better.
  • Avoid bad habits: Too often, stressed workers use cigarettes, alcohol or other drugs to cope with stress. Avoid these like the plague. They will only deteriorate your health and end up causing you more stress as they can damage your ability to concentrate and do quality work. When you do drink, make sure to moderate.
  • Avoid perfectionism: No one is perfect. Learning to take the little mistakes you make in stride and turn them into a lesson rather than a reason to panic is a good habit to get into.
  • Find good de-stressors: Things like listening to music on the drive home, reading a good book, taking some time to do art or knit, can be great to reduce your stress outside of work.
  • Make your workspace your own: Bring photos, printed quotes and other things to spice up your area at work without making it feel cluttered. Personalizing your space allows you to feel more comfortable at work, an easy way to reduce stress.
  • Change your perspective: Viewing everything as negative or bothersome ends up sapping away energy. Trying to keep your perspective positive can help reduce stress and improve your motivation.

By reducing your work stress, you can improve your overall productivity and health. Since your mood reflects on those you work with, stress management will also improve your work environment and interpersonal relationships with your co-workers.

Written by Brianna Gibbons, Sovereign Health Group writer