Stress is something that can affect people from all walks of life. Arming yourself with stress management techniques for work can help you stay productive and healthy. However, if the stress you’re faced with goes beyond tight deadlines at the end of a project and starts to interfere with your day-to-day life, it may be time to talk to a professional. Read on to learn how to handle stress at work and what mental health professionals can do for you.
Stress and Its Impact on Productivity
Stress, in small doses, can focus the mind and help us be more productive. However, prolonged periods of stress can have the opposite effect, leading to burnout. In general, low stress leads to high performance, and employers who take the time to teach stress management techniques for work as well as provide a safe and comfortable environment for their employees will find their teams perform better. Effective stress management can help with:
- Reduced absenteeism
- Improved retention
- Increased productivity
How to Identify Stress
Stress can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Everyone deals with stress slightly differently, but there are some common symptoms, including:
- Difficulty focusing on the task at hand
- Insomnia or chronic tiredness
- Feeling agitated or moody
- Poor memory
- Poor judgment
- Poor emotional regulation
- More susceptibility to illness
- Upset stomach
- Tension/aches and pains
The symptoms of stress can be similar to symptoms of other physical and mental health issues. If you’re finding yourself feeling anxious, having difficulty concentrating or struggling with the symptoms of stress, it’s important to seek advice from a professional. While the web can be a good starting point for researching a variety of topics, using “Dr. Google” to self-diagnose medical issues can be stress-inducing at best and potentially dangerous in many cases.
Many medical conditions have similar symptoms, and attempting to diagnose a condition based on limited information online could lead the searcher to incorrect conclusions, either falsely reassuring them that their symptoms are nothing to worry about, so they delay getting treatment for something serious, or causing undue stress by making them worry their benign symptoms are a sign of terrible disease. Medical professionals have the tools and knowledge required to make more accurate diagnoses.
Managing Stress in the Workplace
Stress management techniques for work often focus on ways of dealing with the feeling of stress, rather than the root cause. Work-related stress can be caused by a variety of factors, which can be divided into two key groups: work contents and work context.
Work contents can include:
- A person’s overall workload
- Working hours
- The control (or lack thereof) they have over how work is performed
Work context can include:
- Bullying or harassment
- Work/life balance
- Lack of support within the organization
- Stress over career development or pay
To truly manage stress at work, these issues should be addressed. When employees feel fairly treated, know their roles and are comfortable in the workplace, they’ll perform better, have fewer sick days and be more likely to be loyal to the company.
Occupational Stress and Your Long-Term Well-Being
Work-related stress can have a lasting impact on a person’s health. High levels of stress, especially if they’re experienced for prolonged periods of time, can be particularly harmful.
Chronic stress can make you more susceptible to colds and flu, as well as other, more serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease. It can also lead to undesirable coping behaviors. If you’re not sleeping enough, self-soothing with drugs or alcohol or finding your low mood is affecting your interpersonal relationships, this can make a difficult situation even harder to deal with.
Coping With Stress
If you work in a stressful position or are struggling with stress in your day-to-day life and it’s impacting your professional life, finding stress management techniques for work could help you stay productive and also improve your overall well-being.
Some useful coping strategies to help you manage stress at work include:
- Communicate with your superiors and colleagues to manage expectations and reduce deadline-related stress.
- Take advantage of wellness programs if offered by your employer.
- Be mindful of taking on too much work. Learn to say no if you’re already overscheduled.
- Take breaks during the working day and leave your desk to walk or get some fresh air.
- If you work remotely, try to get some time every day to communicate with people face-to-face to avoid isolation.
- Look for opportunities for training and advancement to help improve morale.
The above strategies can help with the causes of occupational stress but may not be helpful if you’re already struggling with stress or burnout. In the short term, a combination of self-care and social support may help someone who’s struggling with stress get through a difficult period.
Regular exercise, a healthy diet and taking some time out to rest after particularly busy periods at work can soothe short-term stress-related issues. Someone who works for a generally good employer but has had to work a lot of overtime to deal with a looming deadline may find a holiday at the end of the project is all they need to feel good as new.
If you’re experiencing prolonged or severe stress or feel traditional, healthy coping mechanisms aren’t relieving the symptoms, it’s a good idea to talk to a counselor about other ways to handle the stresses you’re experiencing. Occupational stress is something that affects people from all walks of life, but with the right support, it’s possible to find ways to relieve the stress, either by making changes to your environment or learning new responses to the situations that test you.
Put Mental Health First
If you or someone you care about is struggling with stress, contact Restore to request an appointment with one of our mental health experts, or call us at (877) 594-3566 to talk to a counselor. Our team has experience supporting people with anxiety, PTSD, depression and other mental health issues. We can help you on the path toward better mental health.