Are you constantly feeling stressed out? Are you struggling to cope with ever-growing workloads and fewer resources? If so, then you’re not alone. A recent study found that work stress is the most common type in the UK, with depression and anxiety being the most reported symptoms.
While these may seem like daunting statistics, it’s important to remember that there are ways to manage work-related stress.
What can cause stress in the workplace?
If a person feels a strain on their body due to some physical, mental or emotional stimulus, he might be suffering from stress. Work-related stress occurs when a person’s work environment or situation causes stress.
When an individual deals with stress at work, the common factors include heavy workloads, poor relationships with managers and colleagues, lack of support from supervisors, long working hours, poor working conditions, and job insecurity.
Despite the challenges of the current economic climate, many people are grateful for having a job, even if it is stressful. It is important to remember that work-related stress can be managed by taking care of yourself physically and emotionally.
What are the symptoms of work-related stress?
Many stressors can occur, from too much work to difficult co-workers. Identifying these stressors can help in dealing with them healthily.
Work-related stress can cause several different symptoms. Some people may experience physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomach aches. Others may experience emotional symptoms, such as feeling anxious or depressed. It is important to know the symptoms and signs of stress to get help if needed:
- Feeling overwhelmed or out of control.
- Having difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
- Feeling constantly on edge and irritable.
- Experiencing frequent headaches, neck pain, or stomach problems.
- Sleeping too much or too little.
- Developing a substance problem like an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
- Feeling fatigued or frequently catching colds and flu that do not go away easily.
- Experiencing depression, sadness, guilt, worry, fear, or anger, often for no reason.
- Losing energy and feeling drained, exhausted, and burned out all the time.
- Giving up hobbies or activities that were important to you because they are no longer pleasurable or seem meaningless compared to work.
- Feeling helpless and hopeless about solving problems at work.
- Avoiding or having less contact with friends and family.
- Experiencing frequent thoughts of quitting your job or leaving your company; imagining an alternate life that doesn’t involve work.
- Having irrational fears about going to work or dealing with certain people or situations at work.
- Showing physical signs of stress, such as a racing heart, sweating, trembling, feeling faint, or dizziness.
- Developing a mental health condition like anxiety or depression due to work-related stress.
- Experiencing a loss of your health, such as weight gain or loss, insomnia, and high blood pressure.
- Engaging in self-destructive behaviours like drinking too much alcohol, smoking, using drugs, or engaging in risky sexual behaviour.
- Having a low confidence level.
No one is immune to stress, especially in the workplace. Some common symptoms of work stress in teams include increased absenteeism, increased conflict among team members, declining productivity, job dissatisfaction or turnover intentions, and physical and psychological health complaints.
However, stress is preventable and manageable if you know all the work-related stress symptoms and respond to them in good time.
How to identify the symptoms of stress at work
It’s important to identify the signs of work-related stress to get the support you need for being healthy at work. Behaviour change is often one of the first symptoms to appear. This can include becoming more irritable, impatient or short-tempered, finding it harder to concentrate, or making more mistakes at work.
Not everyone will experience these symptoms – but the more of them you do experience for a longer time, the more likely they are due to stress in the workplace.
If you think your work is causing you stress, the first thing to do is talk to your manager or HR department about EAP services. Consult with your GP for mental health conditions before taking any medication.
How to improve the situation in the workplace
Creating a healthy and productive workplace is beneficial to the employees, but it can also save the business money in the long run. Employees who are stressed and unhappy often lead to decreased productivity and more sick days. To prevent this, business owners should create a work environment that is supportive and encouraging. This includes:
- Offer a business medical insurance plan that covers mental health care.
- Encourage employees to take breaks and enjoy some time outside of the office.
- Provide a comfortable workspace with good ventilation and enough light.
- Celebrate employee accomplishments and encourage a job well done.
- Promote teamwork among employees.
When it comes to combating stress, the best thing you can do is be proactive. The earlier you recognise and address potential problems before they become too overwhelming, the better your chances of taking care of them quickly and effectively in the work environment.