Numerous studies show that stress in the workplace is the major source of stress for American adults. And stress levels continue to escalate over time. Increased levels of job stress, as assessed by the perception of having little control but lots of demands, have been demonstrated to be associated with increased rates of heart attack, hypertension, and other disorders. So much so, that in New York, Los Angeles, and other municipalities, any police officer who suffers a coronary event on or off the job is assumed to have a work related injury.
Main Causes of of Stress in the Workplace
A January 2016 survey based on 834 respondents from CareerCast found 62 percent of workers rate their jobs as stressful.
The most common factors influencing stress levels on the job included:
- Unpredictability—26 percent
- Workplace environment—21 percent
- Deadlines—20 percent
- Safety of others—16 percent
The least common factors influencing stress levels on the job included:
- Length of work day/week—seven percent
- Personal well-being in danger—five percent
- Potential for promotion—three percent
- Travel—one percent
Unpredictability in the workplace includes factors such as the flow of responsibility changing from day-to-day with new tasks added or changed at random intervals or changing expectations for the worker.
Physical Impacts of Stress in the Workplace
Historically our human response to stress were an adaptation for addressing natural threats. Even today, the stress response can be an asset for raising levels of performance during certain times.
However, if stress becomes chronic, it can create physical or psychological damage. Some of the physical damage that occurs from chronic stress includes:
- Heart disease
- Effect on the immune system
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Over- and under-eating
- Sleep disturbance
- Sexual and reproductive dysfunction
- Poor memory, concentration, and learning
Six Steps to Manage Stress in the Workplace
- Track your stressors:Journal for a week. Identify situations that create the most stress and your responses to the stressors. A journal can help you identify triggers and your responses to them.
- Develop healthy responses.When stressors surface, don’t run out for a burger. Create a list of healthy options: Exercise, yoga, or any form of physical activity is beneficial. Set aside time for the things that bring you pleasure. Get enough good-quality sleep.
- Establish boundaries.Establish some work-life boundaries for yourself. That can be as simple as not checking email from home in the evening.
- Take time to recharge.Disconnect from time to time. Take those vacation days. That helps you get back to work feeling rejuvenated.
- Learn how to relax.Meditation, deep breathing, and mindfulness can help melt away stress—give them a try.
- Get some support.Accepting help from trusted friends and family members can improve your ability to manage stress.
It is easy to “indulge” in stress in the workplace at times because it grants you permission to have that extra cocktail and bacon cheese fries.
It is much more difficult to implement strategies for fighting stress in the workplace. But remember, stress and stress management are directly related to personal well-being. You are not the only one affected by workplace stress, so is your family, friends, and co-workers.
Never is this more apparent than when and if you were diagnosed with a significant stress-related disease.
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