In 2017/2018 there were 595,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety and it is estimated around 23.9 working days out of the year are lost by people suffering from stress related symptoms linked to their job.
Everyone should feel happy and comfortable at work but this is not always the case. Many people have very stressful jobs so understanding how to identify and deal with work related stress is essential.
What can cause work related stress?
There are many things that people can experience in work situations that can cause them to experience work related stress. At first people may not realise that it will cause them stress, or they feel that they will be able to deal with it before it gets to them, however people can find it hard to change things at work, sometimes they can be too scared to speak up or certain things are just out of their control.
- Job insecurity – worrying about if you will be out of a job, how quickly you could get another job and finances.
- Lack of respect – this can lower someone’s confidence and make them stressed trying to make sure everything is perfect so that they don’t get told off.
- Feeling undervalued – especially if they still are getting given a big work load, they just feel that they are here to get the work done, not because they are cared about.
- Not getting praised, when workers are doing a good job, it is nice for them to hear nice things, this also shows them that they are doing a good job. For someone who works hard but doesn’t get praised, they must feel like they never do good enough.
Common feelings of stress are
The feelings that the majority of people will experience are, fearfulness and anxiousness, dread, worthlessness, being overwhelmed, loneliness and isolation.
When someone is experiencing work related stress, the feelings that they feel can be heightened while at work. They can also feel more stressed thinking about work when they are at home.
However there are other symptoms that people will experience too, that can cause physical problems, they are listed below.
Physical problems that can be experienced with stress
Feeling constipated or having an upset stomach, for people who suffer with IBS or Coeliac disease their symptoms can be worsened by stress, meaning they may have to have time off work.
Weakened immune system – getting ill more frequently than they had before
When someone is feeling stressed it can cause then to have a panic attack, they can be very scary for someone that has never experienced a panic attack before and often people feel as though they are having a heart attack and are going to die.
Stress can cause someone to struggle staying focused and a negative effect on their memory, this can cause problems for someone at work as their ability to carry out their job role efficiently may decline. It can also cause problems between colleagues when the individual does not seem to be working as hard as everyone else or because they are not as socially involved as they use to be.
When employees are experiencing stress it can cause them to become less punctual because they may not want to go into work or cannot find the motivation to do so. It also leads to absenteeism because many people will simply be unable to face working due to the stress, they feel being at work is too much for them to cope with.
How to reduce work-related stress
Peer support at work can help people to manage their stress better, so that they aren’t bottling it up, this also helps people not isolate themselves and they can distracted talking about something other than what is causing them the stress.
Setting up monthly meetings with your employer gives you the chance to talk about any problems that you may have at work. If you are finding that your work load too much, then you can agree on how to change the work load to make it more manageable. Which in turn should help you with the amount of stress that you are feeling.
Make sure that your employer knows how you are feeling, a good manager should care about their employees, they should be able to share with you how your stress can be reduced in the work place.
If there is someone in the workplace perhaps a co-worker that is causing you stress, it is best to bring it up, arrange to have a meeting with them and your manager and hopefully some agreement on changes that can be put into place.
It is best to share any personal problems with your manager, then they may not try put any pressure on you at work or help to delicate your jobs. If you are having to have time off for hospital appointments, if your manager knows your situation, they can get someone to cover your job while you are off, which will help to reduce your stress knowing that you don’t have to come back in the next day and be behind on your work.
How you can help yourself with stress at work
Ensure that you get your full lunch break and get away from your desk. Having breaks during the day is important and it helps people not to feel burnt out. Getting up and moving around can help to improve people’s mood too. Remember you don’t get paid to work through your lunch break and learn to say no. If someone wants something doing, tell them you will do it once you are off your lunch.
Breathing techniques are also good to learn, so when you feel everything is getting to you, sit back and stop what you are doing, just listening to your breathing helps to distract you and relax you, if you were getting anxious and your heart was racing, this will help it to return to its normal rhythm. This can help you to focus and carry on your work with a clear mind.