September 14, 2020

Jem Fundano

What is Work Stress?

When you have a job, you have a specific role to fulfill. You also have to deal with the workplace, the workmates, and the boss — all of these contribute to your work life.

At some point, you will feel the weight of your workload, and you might experience work setting issues. The struggle you feel can create work stress. It can feel as if it's a given in any workplace, but that's not at all true.

What is Work Stress?

Work stress is a term used whenever you feel stressed about your role in your workplace. Anxiety, fear, and pressure are common feelings that can convert into stress, overtime.

When you feel like your abilities and resources cannot match the demands at work, you will suffer work stress. Prolonged work stress will lead to poor mental or physical health. Eventually, if not managed, it can cause injury.

What causes Work Stress?

Two things can cause work stress: your disposition in life and your working conditions.

Your disposition in life is composed of your personality, attitude, and values. Your working conditions are the external factors like your boss, your workmates, your work setting, and workplace values.

Between your disposition and working conditions, the following are examples that contribute to work stress:

  • Work hours are extended and without pay
  • You are not a regular employee so there's risk of being laid off or fired
  • Taking work at home
  • Being assigned in different work shifts
  • Unrealistic deadlines are set for you
  • You have no control over your work process
  • Your job description is unclear
  • Lack of support from your boss or workmates
  • There is poor communication
  • Bullying
  • Poor management
  • Lack of organizational justice in the workplace
  • Gender, racial, sexual, or ethnic discrimination
  • Not being able to have a say on things
  • Having different values with your workplace
  • Too many tasks that require high-level mental focus are given in one go
  • Your work isn't properly compensated
  • Feeling like you got a lot of hats to wear

What are the Signs of Work Stress?

It's normal to confuse work stress with work challenges. For you to be able to identify work stress, the following are observable signs:

  • Feeling overwhelmed with your work
  • Feeling frustrated over work issues
  • Finding things as irritating
  • Losing confidence over your work outputs
  • Becoming indecisive when asked about certain decisions
  • Negative thinking is present
  • Lapses in memory
  • Worrying and feeling preoccupied with work tasks
  • Racing thoughts are present
  • Restlessness
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Reduced interest in any social activities
  • Having problems with sleep
  • There is a loss or change of appetite
  • Feeling nauseous or constipated
  • Experiencing headaches, muscle tension, and other body pain

Work challenges are inconsistent while work stress is the opposite. It's normal to have work challenges, but when the challenges take longer, it can develop into work stress.

What are the Effects of Work Stress?

Although stress is a normal response, prolonged stress can be damaging. This is why work stress is a reported factor that's affecting the physical and mental health of Americans.

When work stress is not managed, it can lead to chronic illnesses and mental disorders. Cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, mental disorders, workplace injury, and suicide, and cancer are examples.

What can I do to Manage Work Stress?

There are several things you can do to manage work stress, including:

  • Tracking down the factors that are affecting you
  • Taking a stress leave from work
  • Trying healthy stress management techniques
  • Creating a healthy work-life balance by putting boundaries between work and your life
  • Learning how to unwind and what makes you feel relaxed
  • Finding a healthy support system in your workplace or outside your work
  • Getting help when the stress feels too much
  • Being clear when you feel confused about your role or work task
  • Avoiding conflict or engaging in conversations that can lead to conflict
  • Creating a work process that can help you stay organized or on track
  • Using break time as a time to unwind
  • Reflecting on your negative thoughts and work on it
  • Engaging in mindfulness or relaxation techniques
  • Fixing your work one task at a time

When you feel the toll of your work set in, be proactive in identifying and managing work stress. Understanding the causes, effects, signs, and interventions can help you have a healthy work life.

Related Article: Mastering Working From Home as a Parent

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