You might think stress at work is just “part of the job”. Fortunately, that shouldn’t be the case.
While working under a certain degree of pressure can be both productive and a stimulating challenge, stress occurs when that pressure is either turned up too high or sustained for too long.
Stress is bad. It is a big negative for both physical and mental wellbeing, not to mention the fact it does harm to the quality and effectiveness of your work. That said, stress is all too common in the workplace.
A 2018 UK government report found that over half a million people in Britain suffer from work-related stress, resulting in around 15 million “lost” workdays. The American Institute of Stress quotes research suggesting 28% of workers in the US complain of stress.
Feeling the stress at work? However you’re affected, it’s worth your time to take a look at our advice for managing workplace stress.
Get the help you need
Stress is a serious issue, and should not be taken lightly. If you think you might be suffering from workplace stress, consider reaching out to a professional.
Opening up to family and friends is a good start, but if you’re struggling with stress it’s important to consider doing something serious about it.
Talk to someone at work
Responsibility at work cuts both ways.
It’s not just about what you need to deliver and achieve. The company you work for has a responsibility to support you.
If possible, schedule a meeting with an HR representative or someone you can trust within your own department, such as your line manager.
Seek professional help
If there is no one you can talk to at work, or if you’ve tried and failed to seek help among your colleagues, the next step could be to see a medical professional.
Your doctor may not be an expert on the stresses and strains of office life, but they can give you sound medical advice for ensuring your work isn’t jeopardizing your health.
Identify the problem
Suffering from stress can itself obscure the bigger picture, preventing you from seeing the wood for the trees.
In order to get some perspective, you’ll need to give yourself the time and space to determine what’s gone (and going) wrong.
Take a timeout
Pressure often builds upon and pressure, and stress is a common by-product. Your head then becomes filled with fears, worries, and deadlines.
To relieve the tension, we often seek to keep ourselves entertained and avoid asking tough questions.
Try instead to just let everything go. Take a holiday or just make your weekend as long and as boring as possible.
With a clear head, you’ll be in a better position to find a solution to the problem(s).
What is stress doing for you?
Stress is so common in the workplace that some people actually think it is a good thing. Many misidentify the negative effects of stress as the natural result of hard work.
Ask yourself what stress is preventing you from doing. Do you crave greater clarity of mind? Could you be more efficient without constant fear and worry?
Evaluate your environment
As things start piling up on top of you, your focus will often become directed toward your own strains or failings. Try to switch the focus away from you and on to your environment.
Can you identify the factors contributing to your stress? Can you see where the pressure is coming from, and how it might be relieved?
Cause or effect?
When mental stress takes hold, it is hard to distinguish between the results and the ultimate drivers of the stress you’re experiencing.
Your task is to find where that stress is coming from. With increased piece of mind, you should be able to find the source of your woes.
Your stress may be the result, or the cause, of one (or all) of these common issues:
- Unmanageable workload
- Physical discomfort
- Interpersonal conflict
- Unclear goals
Try to dig down to the root. What would have to change for your situation to actually improve?
Can you think back to a time before you were stressed? If so, what changed?
Find what works for you
Having given yourself a breather and started to ask where your stress is coming from, it’s time to try and improve the situation.
There are many remedies for workplace stress, and each has their own merits.
What works for you depends on who you are as well as both the symptoms and the causes of the stress you’re experiencing.