Job Stress And Health
Stress sets off an alarm in the brain, which responds by preparing the body for defensive action. The nervous system is aroused and hormones are released to sharpen the senses, quicken the pulse, deepen respiration, and tense the muscles. This response is important because it helps us defend against threatening situations. The response is preprogrammed biologically. Everyone responds in much the same way, regardless of whether the stressful situation is at work or home.
Short-lived or infrequent episodes of stress pose little risk. But when stressful situations go unresolved, the body is kept in a constant state of activation, which increases the rate of wear and tear to biological systems. Ultimately, fatigue or damage results, and the ability of the body to repair and defend itself can become seriously compromised. As a result, the risk of injury or disease escalates.
Health care expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers who report high levels of stress.Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Dream About Finding Your Dream Job
Let go of all your logical arguments for staying in your current job and, for just a little while each day, imagine what your dream job would look like. Keep a journal, write lots of notes to yourself, and do some visualization exercisesdo anything that inspires you to imagine a better place for yourself.
Take Breaks And Relax
Feeling overwhelmed at work can send you into survival mode, which becomes counterproductive. Stress actually closes off the more creative parts of our cognitive processes and also distorts our perception of time, says Gary Wood, psychologist, life coach and author.
While it may seem counterintuitive, taking time out to relax during the working day will help lighten a heavy workload. The temptation is to work without breaks. The reality is that it depletes our resources and we process things more slowly and make more mistakes. The brain likes breaks.
It is also necessary to look after yourself outside of work. A lot of my clients, when they get very stressed during busy times at work, start eating junk food and abandoning their exercise regimes. The result is they sleep poorly and feel even worse, says Burke. At times of intense work, its more important than ever to look after your physical and emotional self.
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Work Is Always On Your Mind
Is work constantly on your mind? While youre in the shower, eating your breakfast, cooking dinner or getting into bed? If so, its a clear giveaway that youre stressing too much about your duties in the workplace. If this is happening more and more frequently, take time off so you can switch off and unwind.
Get Your Finances In Order
If youre worried about quitting because you dont have a new job to go to and your household relies on you to pay the bills, work on your finances before you take any drastic steps. As a matter of fact, work on your finances even if you dont plan on quitting.
Sometimes, things beyond your control happen and you may find yourself without a job through no fault of your own. Having a good financial plan that includes a budget, a timeline for paying down debt, clear savings goals, and an emergency fund will guide your decision to quit your job now or stay where you are until you find a new job.
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Consider A More Radical Change
And finally, understand when you need to take bigger steps toward happinesswhen you need to make bigger changes like a job or career change. If a true stress-minimizing focus doesnt help, consider more radical changes such as finding a new position at a company whose culture more closely aligns with your goals, Lumpkin says. Theyre out there.
Talk To Someone Close
The power of venting should never be underestimated! Take some time to blow off steam, even when youre busy.
Feeling stressed? Prioritise meeting with someone close with the specific intention of sharing your situation. Not only does this provide you with emotional support, but talking to someone close can help put things in perspective and help you manage your stress.
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Time Management Tips For Reducing Job Stress
Create a balanced schedule. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Try to find a balance between work and family life, social activities and solitary pursuits, daily responsibilities and downtime.
Leave earlier in the morning. Even 10-15 minutes can make the difference between frantically rushing and having time to ease into your day. If youre always running late, set your clocks and watches fast to give yourself extra time and decrease your stress levels.
Plan regular breaks. Make sure to take short breaks throughout the day to take a walk, chat with a friendly face, or practice a relaxation technique. Also try to get away from your desk or work station for lunch. It will help you relax and recharge and be more, not less, productive.
Establish healthy boundaries. Many of us feel pressured to be available 24 hours a day or obliged to keep checking our smartphones for work-related messages and updates. But its important to maintain periods where youre not working or thinking about work. That may mean not checking emails or taking work calls at home in the evening or at weekends.
Dont over-commit yourself. Avoid scheduling things back-to-back or trying to fit too much into one day. If youve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the shoulds and the musts. Drop tasks that arent truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.
Secrets To Dealing With Too Much Work
Many have warned that the UK is on a fast-track to resembling Japan and Korea in its unhealthy work/life balance. The extent of overworking in Japanese culture is seen in their word karoshi, which literally translates to overwork death. Tragic cases of employees dying of heart failure after working hundreds of overtime hours are well known. And while these cases are extreme, they speak for a culture that harms many.
If the UK is to avoid going down this path, efforts must be made first and foremost by the government and employers to protect the wellbeing of workers. However, on an individual level, there are things you can do when faced with too much work.
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Employers That Dont Help Relieve Stress Arent Doing Their Job
The truth is employment shouldnt be a one-sided relationship.
You pour your heart into your job, you take pride in your work, and you truly care about the outcome. An employer who doesnt encourage you to take breaks and doesnt provide opportunities for stress-relief is an employer who doesnt deserve to have you around.
You offer something many fantastic employers would bend over backwards to have: a work ethic and a high level of commitment. Good employers know its their responsibility not to run people into the ground. They know they must pay attention to how much you work as well as how stressed you are.
At the core, youre dealing with a culture of stress. A study of organizational culture showed that a hierarchical, bureaucratic culture, in which the organization showed little care for employee well-being, created a state of low morale.
An organizations negative, stress-based culture leads to poor performance, high turnover, and a low level of engagement.
The bottom line is that when youre dealing with a culture of stress, youre completely justified in being uncommitted.
A companys culture is its identity. Dont commit to a culture therefore an identity that is tearing itself down instead of building itself up.
Your Mental Health Gets Worse
Reynolds noted that increased stress can exacerbate existing mental health issues. Someone who might be a worrier in a really toxic work environment that worry will often exacerbate to cross the clinical threshold, she said.
If you feel like your boss is always out to get you, your mental health pays a price. One 2012 analysis of 279 studies linked perceptions of organizational unfairness with employee health complaints such as overeating and depression.
E. Kevin Kelloway, the Canada Research Chair in Occupational Health Psychology at St. Marys University, said that unfair treatment at work can cause us outsized stress.
Injustice is a particularly toxic stressor because it strikes at the core of who we are, he said. When you treat me unfairly you attack my dignity as a person essentially saying that I dont deserve fair treatment or to be treated the same as others.
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Tip : Support Your Health With Exercise And Nutrition
When youre overly focused on work, its easy to neglect your physical health. But when youre supporting your health with good nutrition and exercise, youre stronger and more resilient to stress.
Taking care of yourself doesnt require a total lifestyle overhaul. Even small things can lift your mood, increase your energy, and make you feel like youre back in the drivers seat.
How To Cope With Stress At Work
You don’t need to cope with stress at work alone. Here are some general ideas you can try to help you manage:
- Understand more about stress. Recognising the signs of stress and learning about the causes of stress is good place to start.
- Figure out what you find stressful and helpful. You could make a Wellness Action Plan to map out what causes you stress and what keeps you well. Once you know what’s best, talk to your employer. They may be able to make some changes to help you.
- Learn different coping techniques. Everyone deals with stress differently, so take time to find methods that work for you. Use them as soon as you start to feel pressure building. Check out the guides from the Stress Management Society for ideas.
- Try practising mindfulness. This practice is about focusing on the here and now. It might help you to find calmness and clarity to respond to stressful situations. See our pages on mindfulness to learn more.
- Look after your physical health. Eat well and try a gentle activity like going for a walk or doing a chair-based exercise. Our pages on physical activity and food and mood have more details on how this can help your mental health.
“I try to keep each task short and clear, take breaks when getting tired and be polite, honest and empathic with the people I work with.”
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How Much Stress Is Too Much Stress At Work
Whos feeling a little stressed these days? If youre nodding your head yes, youre not alone. Were facing some challenging times that can really throw our stress levels for a loop. Its important that we understand what stress levels can do and how we can make stress work for us.
Stress can affect every single system in our body. Chronic stress can even lead to serious problems, such as diabetes, mental disorders and high blood pressure. How do you know when youve hit that marker of too much stress? And is there a state where we dont have enough stress to function? Turns out, there is a big connection between our level of stress and performance.
Stop Trying To Run Everyones Race
If you want to direct the narrative of your life, you need to take a step back and get rid of the clutter. Figure out what you can delegate and then, focus your energy away from the distractions. Not every email needs a reply, and not every job is right for you.
Shakespeare said it best,
To thine own self be true.
These six words need to become your mantra.
If you want to reach your goals this year and be proactive, you need to walk forward with laser focus. If you compare yourself or your business to the next big thing, you wont contribute anything except a lesser copy of yourself and your organization.
Part of being proactive is being creative. You have to be able to see the different angles and nuances in a situation or project in order to anticipate potential issues and come up with creative solutions. If youre constantly looking over someone elses work, youre not focusing on whats in front of you. And you could end up missing a lot of obstacles that you couldve avoided if you were paying attention.
Stop looking around. Your purpose is not to run the race of someone else. If you want to be proactive at work, you need to stop comparing yourself to your neighbor and stick to running your own race. Its the only way that youll win.
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You Have Digestive Issues
Digestive issues such as constipation, excess gas and diarrhoea can all be caused by high levels of stress. When the brain feels severely stressed, writes Chris Woolston for HealthDay, it unleashes a cascade of hormones that can put the whole digestive system in an uproar. If this stress is left untreated, it can cause irritable bowel syndrome and heartburn in the long term.
Write Down Your Stressors
Identifying and recording stressful situations can help you understand whats bothering you. Some of these can be subtle sources of tension, such as an uncomfortable workspace or a long commute.
Keep a journal for 1 week to track your stress triggers and your reactions to them. Make sure to include the people, places, and events that gave you a physical, mental, or emotional response.
As you write, ask yourself:
- How did this make me feel?
- What was my reaction?
- What are some ways of resolving it?
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Early Warning Signs Of Job Stress
Job Stress and Health:What the Research Tells Us
Cardiovascular DiseaseMany studies suggest that psychologically demanding jobs that allow employees little control over the work process increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Musculoskeletal DisordersOn the basis of research by NIOSH and many other organizations, it is widely believed that job stress increases the risk for development of back and upper- extremity musculoskeletal disorders.
Psychological DisordersSeveral studies suggest that differences in rates of mental health problems for various occupations are due partly to differences in job stress levels.
Workplace InjuryAlthough more study is needed, there is a growing concern that stressful working conditions interfere with safe work practices and set the stage for injuries at work.
Suicide, Cancer, Ulcers, and Impaired Immune FunctionSome studies suggest a relationship between stressful working conditions and these health problems. However, more research is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.
-Encyclopedia of Occupational Safety and Health
Multitasking Is A Recipe For Failure
Is there nothing insanely stressful about your job yet you are still insanely stressed? Chances are youre juggling a full-time job and another full-time obligation.
For example, if youre a nontraditional student who went back to school because your job prospects were slim yet you still have to work while youre in school youre creating stress.
You need to quit something. About 61 percent of multitaskers who seek counseling have anxiety, and 49 percent are depressed.
Counseling helps, but its not a cure for multitasking. Professor Gloria Mark at the University of California, Irvine says that people who multitask are more susceptible to stress, neuroticism, and impulsivity.
According to Mark, it takes your brain about 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain focus after you switch tasks. This drains your energy reserves, and if you continue, you can enter a state of chronic stress.
People who have two or three major priorities weighing on them all the time are caught in a multitasking trap. Determine your priorities and evaluate your job. If your job is not something youre passionate about and its not at the top of your priority list, drop it.
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Managing Common Stressful Situations At Work
If you feel stressed by a certain problem at work, you might not be alone in this.
Anyone can experience some of these common stressful situations in the workplace. The important thing is understanding how to manage them.
Problems with your workload
- Ask your manager for help. Discuss your workload with your manager. Try setting realistic targets and talk about how you can solve the issues you’re having.
- Try to balance your time. You might be doing too much at once. If you don’t give each task your full attention, it can take longer. Try to claim your time back if you ever need to work extra hours to get something done.
- Reward yourself for achievements. Rather than only focusing on work that needs to be done next, reward yourself for tasks youâve completed. Your reward could be taking a break to read, do a puzzle, chat with co-workers or spend time outside.
- Be realistic. You don’t have to be perfect all the time. You might find that you’re being more critical of your own work than you need to be. Work within your limitations and try to be kind to yourself.
“I don’t take on too much at one time, little steps are the way. Breathing strategies, having a mindset and thinking, ‘I can do this!'”
Difficult work-life balance
Lack of support in your workplace
“My work has become a strong support system. My work colleagues have become like family and there is a mutual respect in how we treat one another.”
Cut Out Things That Add To Your Stress
Sometimes, the best way to reduce your stress is to cut something out of your life. Get rid of the things that are adding to your stress so you can experience more peace.
Watching the news, being constantly connected to your digital devices, drinking alcohol, and consuming too much caffeine are just a few of the things that may add more stress to your life. Making some changes to your daily habits could be instrumental in helping you feel better.
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