This time of year comes with a lot of mixed emotions. In our personal lives we have the holidays and on the professional side a multitude of thoughts, worries and concerns over business performance. Everyone who works, feels stress at some point. Short term stress is the most common and is caused by situations such as meeting deadlines or to fulfill a challenging obligation. However, chronic stress in the work place can be overwhelming and very harmful to both physical and emotional health.
A recent study by Harris Interactive said that in 2017 there was a marked increase of people in the workforce who felt stressed. In the survey, the number of people who felt stressed increased from 73 to 83 percent from the previous year. From another study, only 37 percent of Americans surveyed said they were doing an excellent or very good job managing stress.
What Causes Work-related Stress?
The most common factors which lead to work-related stress are:
- Low salaries
- Excessive workloads
- Few opportunities for growth or advancement
- Work that isn’t engaging or challenging
- Lack of social support
- Not having enough control over job-related decisions
- Conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations
Job-related stress is a serious issue. We will never be able to avoid stress and tensions that occurs on the job. However, there are steps to manage it.
Taking Steps to Manage Stress
- Monitor what is causing your stress. Take notes of your activities for 1-2 weeks. Taking notes can help you find patterns that are causing you stress and your reactions to them.
- Decide how you will respond. People who experience excessive stress often deal with it in unhealthy ways such as overeating, smoking, abusing drugs or alcohol, which only compounds the problem. Do your best to make healthy choices when you feel the tension rise. Exercise is a great stress-buster. Also make time for hobbies and favorite activities. Getting enough good-quality sleep is also important for effective stress management.
- Create boundaries. We live in a world of technology that makes us connected 24/7. Establish some work-life boundaries for yourself such as not checking email from home in the evening, or not answering the phone during dinner.
- Take time to rejuvenate. To avoid chronic stress and burnout, we need to “shut off” from work by finding ways to not engage in work-related activities, or thinking about them. Take vacations, don’t let them go to waste! Time off is needed to relax and unwind, it will help you feel reinvigorated and allow you to perform at your best.
- Relax. Learn meditation techniques along with deep breathing exercises. Begin each day by taking some personal time to focus on positive aspects of your life. Go for a walk or engage in simple activities that will take your mind off the pending stress of the day.
- Improve your work environment. Companies are recognizing that good working conditions and caring for their employee’s well-being has a positive impact. You can contribute by having open and constructive conversations. Look for solutions that can help you and others perform at your best.
- Get some support. Accepting help from trusted friends and family members can improve your ability to manage stress. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by work stress, you may want to talk to a professional who can help you better manage stress and change unhealthy behavior.
Have a Positive Outlook
In life, there are many things we cannot control, but we do have the power and ability decide how we want to deal with them. Take time to reflect on what is going well in your life. You may be surprised that there is a lot of positive to build from. Although the holidays are about giving, this year, make a concerted effort to take time for yourself. Find that balance that brings peace and happiness.