In a poll conducted by Harris Interactive a massive 83% of U.S. workers indicated that they experienced work stress. Eight out of ten adults is far too big of a number for us to accept this as simply normal. Workplace stressors include low pay, increased workload, and issues with other people in the office. Many of us feel as though we are able to handle this level of stress but the increased anxiety over work related issues does impact our overall physical and mental health.
Good vs. bad work stress
Not all stress is negative. Stress is a biological response to negative stimuli that can keep us alert and active so we can avoid injury or tragedy. However, most of that kind of stress has been replaced by artificial stressors such as impossible deadlines, extended commutes, and difficult bosses. Recognize the difference between stress that gives you the extra push to meet a deadline and the kind of work stress that affects your overall well-being.
Your body and pain levels
Prolonged work stress will begin to affect your health. You may adopt an unhealthy diet, poor sleeping habits, and lack of exercise. This can quickly lead to higher blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight gain issues. These changes can also lead to increased rates of chronic pain, or pain symptoms. A hostile work environment can also lead to increased risk of heart disease and heart attacks or strokes. The longer you stay within the stressful environments, your risk of developing issues increases.
Your mental well-being is just as important to a healthy life as your physical well-being. One of the biggest issues for overworked and stressed employees is the risk of burnout. Feeling burned out and sluggish in your job can lead to anxiety and depression. If you’re experiencing apathy for your coworkers or customers, depending on your line of work, this may be a sign that you are burned out. A vacation may not be enough to solve the underlying problems.
Managing work stress
If you are feeling overwhelmed and high levels of work stress, you can make changes. Focusing on relaxation, exercise, and a healthy diet can help your body recover from the effects of stress. You may also want to discuss your feelings with a therapist to determine what else you can do.
Also, be sure to take your breaks at work. This especially includes leaving at least your desk, and preferably, your office during your lunch hour. If you get angry at a boss, coworker, or client walk away and calm down before addressing the issue. Finally, make sure you are setting realistic expectations for yourself and others. Talk to your manager about your job functions and changes you can make to the job to allow for less stress in the workplace.
If work stress is impacting your life, also reach out to your doctor to see how they can help you find modifications or develop other practices for reducing stress.
Do you feel stress in the workplace and, if so, how is it affecting your health?