When handled properly, stress can be a healthy and powerful drive towards success. However, when it gets out of hand and starts affecting our mood and daily life, it becomes a handicap, a powerful enemy. Sustained stress increases the serum levels of cortisol and causes a relative state of immuno-suppression responsible for the onset of several infectious diseases. So, this can lead to such imbalances that can often lead to autoimmune diseases, skin problems, and allergies.
In the workplace, stress is essential to boost productivity, but there are distressing stress symptoms you should be aware of. If you are experiencing these, you might be suffering from an unhealthy type of stress at work:
- Changes in appetite and mood
- Increase in heart rate
- Chest pain
- Nausea, stomachache
COMMON STRESS FACTORS AT WORK
There are different types of work-related stressors, for example:
- Work demand stressors, which are basically everything we do in our working hours. The job itself.
- Interpersonal stressors, basically our relationships at work and how to cope with colleagues.
- Role stressors, especially when your position at work is not very clear, or when you are disliked because of what you’re hired to do.
- Work-life balance stressors, which appears when you fail to have a clear line between your work and your personal life.
- Climate stressors, caused by the organizational structure of your work and the environment around you.
However, there’s something we can do for all of them. Thriving at work is possible, even under adverse circumstances. Next, we will address the top 10 causes of stress to give you an idea of how to cope with the most common situations at work.
TOP 10 CAUSES OF STRESS AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM
Having too much work to do
This is a common problem in many workplaces. It seems like there’s more work to do than time available. When this happens, it is possible that work ends up affecting our personal life as well, creating an unbearable source of stress. So, what can you do about this? There are a few ideas to help you out:
- Delegate work, as much as possible and whenever you can do it.
- Ask your boss about their priorities and schedule your work accordingly.
- Remember the importance of teamwork.
- Learn to say “no” to additional work.
- Set clear goals and avoid interruptions.
Dealing with tight deadlines
Deadlines can be useful to keep track and schedule your work, but tight deadlines can be quite stressful and kill your creativity. Some people can be affected by deadlines to the point of feeling panicked and creating a recurring cycle of stress that affects productivity and vice versa. So, what can you do?
- Communicate with your boss or manager to let them know what you can do in the available time.
- Get help from colleagues or try outsourcing.
- Break down a big project into simple and more manageable steps to follow.
- Keep in mind that, if you were to miss a deadline, you can apologize and learn from your mistakes.
Dealing with repetitive jobs
Doing the same thing over and over again may feel like a secure type of job at first, but give it a couple of months, and you will likely experience stress. It becomes repetitive, restrictive, and even your body starts complaining. Some people suffer from repetitive strain injuries, posture problems, and carpal tunnel syndrome. But here’s something you can do:
- Instead of taking long breaks, take shorter and more frequent breaks from work.
- If you’re using a computer, adjust your chair and desk so your arms are kept horizontal, and your eyes are aligned with the screen.
- Talk to others, be helpful, try a few jokes.
- Stand up and stretch from time to time, do a few sit-ups if you feel like it.
Having an ambiguous job or role
Not knowing what to expect from your job and what your boss expects from you is an important source of stress. It creates doubts about your personal competence and doesn’t let you set goals and build a good schedule because you don’t have a clear vision of what you’re supposed to do. It usually happens when:
- You have a new job and still don’t know how things move around.
- You’re promoted and don’t entirely understand your new role
- Not enough personnel organization in your workplace
Here’s something you can do:
- Ask for a job description and induction after taking a new job.
- Communicate to your boss in a friendly manner to define your role more clearly.
- Revisit your job description; maybe there are a few confusing tasks you still need to make clear.
When people hate you for what you do at work
Sometimes we are not paid to be liked by everybody, but all the way around. Fulfilling a role everybody else hates is difficult and stressing, especially when you try to be social with your colleagues at work. But what can you do about it?
- Always keep in mind everything you like about your job
- Remember you need to set aside friendship and work, and if your colleagues do not understand that, it’s their problem, not yours.
- Share your thoughts with fellow employees, especially if they fulfill a similar role.
Dealing with bullying at work
Bullying is not only uncomfortable, but it also creates stress at work as well. Being bullied at work causes a great deal of stress, depression, and anxiety. Some victims of bullying may even have post-traumatic stress disorder, and this problem is more common that people would like to think. But, what can you do about bullying?
- Keep your temper; if you react to your bully, you would be playing their game.
- Talk to the bully in front of a supervisor to tell him/her that you perceive the behavior as bullying.
- Take note and maintain records of their actions with time and date.
- Women can be especially vicious between themselves in a workplace
What to do when your ideas and opinion are rejected?
When your opinion and ideas are always rejected, it comes a moment when you start thinking you don’t need to waste your energy anymore. However, it may be a part of your job, and get you into trouble if you stop contributing. This situation creates stress, especially when you’re an introvert. There are a few things you can do:
- Organize your ideas before communicating with them. This may happen because others don’t understand your approach.
- Learn from your boss and your colleagues, even from their weaknesses.
- Make room for disagreement, don’t take it personally.
Favoritism in the workplace
Preferential treatment to family and friends within work may not only cause you to feel demotivated but also creates stress, especially when others get promoted and are granted a special type of freedom. However, there’s something pretty simple you can do in these instances:
- Make sure it’s favoritism. Other colleagues might be really good without you noticing.
- Communicate your concern to human resources if you can support your claims.
Perceptions of work stress causes and effective interventions in employees working in public, private and non-governmental organisations: a qualitative study.
With Thanks (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Not separating work from personal life
This is commonly seen when the workloads are substantial enough to affect your personal life, when you are forced to take extra shifts and work extra hours, and when your working schedule does not allow you to have a personal life. Nowadays, we not only work at the office but take our work home, and some types of jobs require your availability all day long. But what can you do if that’s your case?
- Don’t mix your devices, use one laptop and one phone for work and another for your personal life.
- Unplug your work phone and laptop when you need quality time with your family and friends.
- Be more efficient at work; maybe you don’t really need to take it back home.
- If you fail to change things around, talk to your boss to consider working part-time or reducing your workload.
Violence at work
Physical and psychological violence at work is more common than people actually think. They can be in the form of threats, verbal abuse, or physical attacks. All of these cases should be reported immediately to the human resources department, and in case there’s not such a department, you need to take legal action. Do not tolerate this kind of behavior. It is not something you can work with, and it is not negotiable.
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