Workplace stress is getting more and more common with each passing year. You probably heard this before: “I work better under stressful situations.”
Well, do you now?
Even though sometimes a bit of stress can get us on our feet to accomplish some tasks we’ve been putting off, in the long run, it isn’t really effective.
A study conducted by the American Psychological Association in 2021 showed that 66% of employees view their job as a very significant or somewhat significant stressor.
As we mentioned, sometimes stress can be a boost. But when you have that many people who feel stressed at work on a daily basis, it stops being that.
In todayțs article, we’ll touch on a few key subjects: what are the factors that cause stress in the workplace, what it can lead to, and, most importantly, how to keep that away from you.
What is stress at work caused by?
As our roles bear more and more responsibility, our fear of failure grows. Let’s say you just got promoted to a management position. You’ve been looking forward to this but now that it’s happening, you start to feel the burden on your shoulders: what if you do something wrong, what if the company will not be pleased with your work, what if that project doesn’t go as planned and the list can go on and on.
And this is only one small example.
Although some jobs are more stressful than others, most employees experience stress at the workplace at some point. Some causes are:
- unsatisfying pay;
- few opportunities for growth or advancement;
- boring or repetitive work;
- lack of social support;
- lack of power over your career;
- unclear expectations from your employer;
- excessive workloads;
- problems with co-workers;
- a poor work-life balance;
- lack of job security.
What are the signs?
This part of our article goes especially for HR people, team leaders, or business owners. Being able to identify signs of high levels of stress in your colleagues is a great skill. This can help you prevent some later problems.
Stress can be seen physically and psychologically. Physical symptoms include headaches, stomachaches, back pain, increased heart rate, fatigue, and lack of quality sleep. Chronic stress is much worse and can lead to anxiety, high blood pressure, and even a weak immune system.
Psychologically, stress can make you feel the blues. It can lead to anxiety, depression, lack of motivation, and irritability. If a person is constantly under great stress, you can’t expect them to always be nice to others.
Why should we care?
Well, a study found out that stress reduces employee engagement and productivity and it increases employer turnover and absenteeism.
For every healthy company culture, people are the most valuable part. And keeping those people happy means creating a stress-free work environment. Here are some tips:
Tips for reducing stress levels at work
Identify the cause
Stress always has a cause. Is it the fear that you will screw things up? Is your team leader not patient enough? Are you struggling to understand what you have to do?
It may sound simple, but getting to the root of it can help you find solutions. It’s important to look both at your personal and professional life and get some introspective moments. Look at what’s happening in your life right now and see how you feel about each thing.
Then, when you find the key factor, ask yourself “why do I feel stressed about that” and see if it is an interior fear that you have or something from the exterior which can be addressed. Identify your fears, even if they are irrational, and you’ll see that your situation will get clearer just by doing that.
Talk about it
This goes both for personal and professional stress-causing things. Professionally, go to your team leader or your HR representative. They should listen to you and help you find solutions.
Keeping it all to yourself and fighting your own battles is not easy. So talking about it and making people at work aware of the way you feel will take some of the pressure off. If your company has a healthy culture, they will understand you, and they will help with finding solutions.
Moreover, you may lead by example and give your colleagues the courage they needed in order to talk about it as well. We’re never the only ones with problems.
Being connected with work 24/7 has never been healthy. This leads to a poor work-life balance which leads to, you guessed it, high levels of stress.
Your work ends at a certain hour. After that, make sure to put all work devices aside. That “urgent” e-mail will still be there in the morning. Your personal time will be far gone by then.
Schedule breaks into your day
To lower stress levels, you need to break bad habits. Working endless hours without taking a break is one of them.
For every hour of work, you should be taking 10 minutes to rest. Just get a glass of water, and look out the window. It’s good for your back, too.
If your body makes weird noises when you get up, it’s a sign that you need breaks more often.
Be kind to your team / to yourself
If there are days when you didn’t cross every item from your to-do list, it’s ok. Be kind to yourself and to the people on your team.
Not every day is about getting things done. Some days are for meetings, learning, or creative thinking.
Being kind also means showing yourself appreciation by doing quality things for yourself. We have an article about habits for a healthy lifestyle while working. Check it out if you need some inspiration.
Change the scenery
Changes can be helpful. If your company allows you, try and work from home for a day. Or if you are already working from home, go to the office. If you are too far from the office, try renting a Nooka: it’s a safe space, built so that you can work for a couple of hours without interruption. They usually have a nice view and that can help you calm down and unwind.
This is also going in the “be kind to yourself” box as it is you breaking the pattern.
Next time you see signs of high-stress levels in yourself or in others, you’ll know what to do.