Most people pass through work stress without even knowing it. The routine of being woken up by alarm early in the morning to get ready for the day and finish late in the night seems normal. Moreover, dealing with work stress is subjective rather than objective – meaning that what is stress to Mr A may not necessarily be stress to Mr B.
Therefore, routine personal stress assessment is necessary to save yourself from burning out. But, most times this is difficult because of the emotional attachments we have for our job and the fear of loosing it.
In addition, work stress can never exist alone but is amplified by other stressors. Actually, stressors are those external elements that can cause stress to an organism. Some of these stressors includes; relationship, family-related, denial or from another external force. Simply put, work stress management can only be successful if there is a balance between work and personal life.
As a result, do not pin-point work stress if you have not ruled out the possibility of getting burnt out from other potential stressors. Hence, before dealing with work stress, write down all other possible stressors and proffer a solution side by side.
So, how can one define stress if it means different things to different people and also to different professions?
What is work stress?
Center for Disease Control (CDC) defined work stress as the “harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker”.
The American Institute of Stress (AIS) also stated that work stress is far and away the major source of stress for American adults. In their statistics, 46% of the stress to Americans comes from workloads from offices and places of work, 20% from juggling between work and personal life while 6% is from lack of job security. The remaining 28% is related to personal issues.
Furthermore, work stress is a global issue that affects both the developed and the developing countries, although, the mechanism by which they affect people in these countries differs. In essence, developed countries major source of work stress comes from having excess workload while the developing countries face more emotional stress from job insecurity and job hunting.
Despite the cause or the setting of work stress, the common factor is that it is detrimental to health if not properly managed.
Actually, dealing with work stress has to be both psychologically and physically. That brings us to understanding the difference between stress and challenge (psychological aspect of dealing with work stress).
Stress vs challenge
According to experts, there is no stress measuring tracker/device that can actually measure the state of mind during stress.1 Hence, it is difficult to draw a line between normal challenge and stress.
The human perceives a stimuli/stressor either as a threat or a challenge – that is both positive and negative. Actually, the major difference between the perception of a stimuli to be a challenge or threat is dependent on the state of mind.
Meaning that both challenge and stress can cause hormonal changes such as release of Adrenaline, cortisol and other hormones that will give you the strength to deal with the stimuli.
However, the difference between stress and challenge is that, in challenge you are motivated (being positive) with the stimuli while stress demoralize (impact negatively) the state of mind, but both expends the same amount energy.
Therefore, how can one draw a line between a stressor and a challenge? – This is the different between individuals and their stress managing capabilities.
Simply put, dealing with work stress has to start with your perception of work. If you see work just as a disturbance – it will always be stressful. But, work perception as a way of being useful and contributing to mankind will always place you on the side of dealing with challenges and not stress.
Work stress test
The work stress test is a tool that is used to ascertain the level of stress you may be facing at work and your fitness to work.
The stress measuring tracker is a medical device that records stress by detecting parameters associated with stress such as heart rate variability. But, the challenge with this device is its inability to detect emotional states that may affect heart rate such as excitability.
When battling with yourself if what you are facing at work is stress or challenge. It is important to look deep into your mental state of mind to decide. In that regards, i will always encourage you go for a work stress test.
Work stress test are set of questions designed by professionals that helps to open your subconscious mind and accept the reality with regards to stress and stressors. However, the limitation is that values and socio-economical factors can cloud ones judgement when answering the questions.
In conclusion, both stress measuring devices and online work stress test are not complete diagnosing tool for measuring stress but serves as a tool to help rule out some stressors. Therefore, it is important you see your physician or psychologist for proper stress diagnosis if you notice any sign or symptoms of stress.
Symptoms of work stress
These symptoms are markers that you maybe likely going through work stress. Therefore, take the appropriate step in dealing with the work stress if you notice any of the signs, which includes; seeing a physician or resting . This is because uncontrolled stress can be detrimental to health and lead to Anxiety, Depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Below are the common symptoms of stress;
- Angina pectoris
- Joint and body pains
- Loss of weight
- Bone Fracture
Direct or physical injury
- Menstrual cycle irregularities
- Loss of libido
- Problem with the circadian cycle
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of concentration
Tips on dealing with work stress
Individuals deal with work stress differently. Most people will go straight to bed immediately after a stressful day while some people will want a stick of cigarette or couples of opiod to stay abreast. Many study have indicated that stress is the number one factor that leads to drug and substance abuse or relapse.2
Therefore, do not resort to using substances or drugs as a way of relieving stress because of the potential health hazards attached to it and the probability of getting addicted to a particular substance. The excuse is always, “it’s just a pill or it’s just a stick”
In other words, there are other favorable approaches to stress management that is devoid of use of a substances. These proffered methods are healthy and vital when dealing with work stress or stress management. Below are important things you can do to deal with job stress.
Practice a good working relationship with colleagues
Our workplace is a second place to home. This means that we spend almost same number of hours we spend at home at work. Hence, our relationships with other colleagues has a direct or indirect effect to our psychology.
Therefore, to maintain your sanity at work, you should improve on the interpersonal relationship with colleagues. You can either be close friends or you keep your relationship with them simple. But, creating enmity at workplace is a hard burden to carry and will play a big role with the way you enjoy and perceive your work.
Strong organizational skill is important to keep you in track of the things you need to do at workplace. So, it is always important to have a guide such as a To-Do-List.
In your To-Do-List, draw out daily achievable goals and make sure you achieve at least 70% of the daily drafted goals. Consequently, it will be easier to meet up with deadlines and avoid rush hours that can stress you.
Construct a suiting working environment
Working environment has a big role to play in both physiological and psychological output in a workplace. Nevertheless, there are some kind of structural implementation that may be beyond the capability of an employer.
Despite that, you can also choose to tidy your personal office to make it look more comfortable and relaxing. You can keep stuffs that will motivate you on your desk such as family vacation picture. In conclusion, a suiting working environment is the one that calms you and brings out the best in you.
Learn to ask for help
Multitasking is one of the major stressors at the work place. Employers may want to multitask because of so many reasons which may include; proving their worth, pleasing the boss or for self gratification. In addition, some people thinks if they don’t do it,nobody will do it better.
Yet, no matter the reason, you should learn not to bite more than you can actually chew. Meaning, you have to learn when to say “NO” or when to ask someone to help. Responsibility sharing increases productivity and saves time.
Do the job you love
Being stuck in a job that you have no passion for could be the reason you are experiencing stress at work. Most psychologists relates job satisfaction to the level of production and the willingness to work – the more satisfied you are with a job, the more your elastic potential against the work stress/strain.
Therefore, choose a job that will make you excited each time you remember you have something to do in your workplace.
Learn to relax
Staying in front of the computer or doing one particular thing for a long time can get you bored and at same time stressed. As a result, incorporate relaxation as part of your work ethics. Choose any relaxation technique that works for you such as;
- Walking around the office
- Engaging in a brief conversation
- Taking a coffee or snacks
- Playing a game
- Or calling a partner
In whichever way, make sure that your relaxation is not over due and will not attract your employer’s concern.
Proper exercise does three things which are; to improve strength, endurance and speed both mentally and physically. Also, exercise allows blood to circulate all over your body and more oxygen to the brain,thereby, helping to get the body rid of stress.
Nevertheless, the choice of exercise matters, since some types of exercise such as strength building exercises can drain you of your strength and leave you wasted at the work place. Therefore, meditation and mild aerobics are good medication to get rid of stress.
Learn to balance work with life
Since stress is when your body is overwhelmed by external stimuli you cannot deal with which includes family matters, relationship issues, social life e.t.c. To be void of work stress, you must learn to strike a balance with all other aspect of your being.
In that regards, no aspect of your life should get more attention than it requires.
Work stress can affect anybody and should be detected on time to avoid it causing serious health complications. There are some tools that can aid to suggest stress but are not a diagnostic tool to detect a definite stress. So, look out for those symptoms that shows signs of work stress and tell your Doctor.
Finally, dealing with work stress with pills, drugs or substances is wrong and can only lead to addiction. So, take the few tips in the post on how to deal with work stress.