Stress In The Workplace How To Cope With It

Most of​ us readily acknowledge that stress is​ an​ inescapable part of​ life in​ our modern society. It’s in​ the​ home,​ the​ schools,​ and the​ workplace.

Workplace stress management is​ becoming a​ buzz word of​ sorts,​ as​ more companies seek ways to​ cope with workplace stressors. But what is​ it?

Defining Workplace Stress

“Stress is​ the​ reaction people have to​ excessive pressures or​ other types of​ demand placed on​ them.” (Managing stress at​ work: Discussion document,​ United Kingdom Health and Safety Commission,​ London,​ 1999)

Stress in​ the​ workplace can be either positive stress that results in​ greater productivity,​ or​ negative stress that cuts productivity. Our definition does not say that stress in​ the​ workplace is​ a​ reaction to​ pressure,​ but to​ excessive pressure. it​ is​ when stressors are too demanding,​ exerting too much pressure on​ us,​ that they become negative.

Workplace stress of​ a​ harmful nature is​ intense,​ continued,​ or​ repeated.

Who is​ Affected by Workplace Stress?

Everyone is​ affected at​ some time or​ other. as​ the​ world tries to​ increase output and limit time required,​ workplace stress hits both blue and white-collar workers. Evidence indicates that work that was once considered non-stressful is​ now approaching high-stress ratings.

On a​ scale of​ 1 to​ 10,​ 10 being the​ highest,​ increasing numbers of​ occupations are inching up toward the​ scale’s top. a​ recent table prepared by the​ University of​ Manchester Institute of​ Science and Technology lists law enforcement officers at​ the​ 7.7 level. Airline pilots are close behind at​ 7.5. And while they may seem to​ cause patients stress,​ dentists are rated 7.3. Even teachers have a​ high stress level of​ 6.2.

Adolescents and older workers often have more trouble coping with workplace stress – women may have more trouble than men. People who have high levels of​ stress in​ the​ family will be more affected by workplace stress.

Family Stress Increases Workplace Stress

When a​ balance between work and family is​ missing,​ workplace stress is​ increased. Two-income families and single parent families are especially affected. Time-sensitive work can make greater demands than the​ worker can handle. Work schedules may change,​ creating stress in​ handling children. Harsh or​ bullying treatment at​ work can cycle into family stress,​ and back to​ workplace stress.

Health Impacts of​ Stress

It is​ well accepted that stress produces a​ “fight-or-flight” response in​ humans. the​ heartbeat picks up speed. Breathing rhythm changes. Blood is​ sent to​ muscles and other vital organs. Adrenaline and noradrenaline is​ released into the​ blood,​ raising levels of​ energy-providing nutrients. Our bodies are ready to​ fight the​ enemy or​ run from him.

The trouble is,​ we​ cannot easily fight workplace stress. we​ might want to​ land a​ punch on​ the​ nose of​ the​ boss that makes unreasonable demands,​ but we​ cannot. we​ might want to​ quit on​ the​ spot,​ but we​ need the​ income,​ so we​ are not able to​ carry through on​ our “fight-or-flight” response.

Frustrated body systems trying to​ cope with this dilemma may give in​ to​ consequences such as​ chronic fatigue,​ depression,​ anxiety,​ migraine,​ insomnia,​ hypertension,​ heart disease,​ substance abuse,​ and a​ host of​ other problems.

Some employers have instituted workplace stress management programs,​ with more or​ less success. in​ many cases,​ though,​ a​ program of​ self-help for workplace stress,​ without individual research,​ might be more effective.

Self-Help for Workplace Stress

If you were to​ take a​ self-help course entitled,​ as​ this article is,​ “Stress in​ the​ Workplace – How to​ Cope with It”,​ you would expect to​ learn practical things you could do to​ cope with workplace stress. Reports and research aside,​ you would want specific self-help. You would want steps that could help you begin to​ cope today.

The following practical steps will get you started. Write your answers.

1. Analyze your job. Do you have a​ clear job description that tells what is​ expected of​ you? Are you sufficiently qualified for the​ work expected? Do you have the​ tools you need? Does the​ job use your talent?

2. Analyze your workplace. is​ it​ clean and safe? is​ it​ attractive and laid out well? Are things easy to​ find? is​ it​ quiet enough for work? is​ there a​ quiet room where you can take a​ break? Can you take a​ 5-minute break every hour or​ so? Are your work hours reasonable?

3. Analyze your feelings. Do you feel that your job is​ meaningful? Do you think you get enough feedback from others as​ to​ whether or​ not you are doing well? Do you feel as​ though people see you as​ an​ individual rather than a​ resource? Do you feel that you have the​ right to​ say “no” when the​ workload becomes too heavy?

Once you have answered every question,​ decide what action you will take to​ change unwanted situations.

You can,​ for example,​ request a​ clear job description if​ you don’t have one. You can ask to​ discuss job expectations. You can request missing tools that would reduce stress.

You can often clean or​ rearrange a​ workplace. You can make ergonomic changes for physical safety. With thought,​ you can create better work flow,​ or​ relocate needed tools.

If your job seems meaningless,​ be creative. Look around for new ways of​ doing the​ job,​ of​ cutting costs or​ increasing production. a​ challenge can make a​ big difference in​ coping with workplace stress.

Finally,​ learn to​ say “no” to​ unnecessary demands. Were you asked to​ “help” a​ habitual-long-lunch co-worker by adding part of​ her work to​ your own? Agree to​ do it​ once,​ but explain respectfully why the​ practice is​ unfair to​ both of​ you. Are you expected to​ remain at​ work until the​ last person leaves,​ even though you arrive an​ hour before anyone else? Ask respectfully if​ consideration can be given,​ since your work is​ done early.

You will best cope with workplace stress when you learn which “monkeys” are yours to​ feed,​ and decline to​ feed anyone else’s “monkey”.

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