Workplace stress complaints are becoming more common. Whether an employee of a large organisation or a sole-preneur, the effects of workplace stress can result in more than a reduction in your productivity.
When the effects of workplace stress begin to take hold you generally feel irritable and anxious, fatigued and lacking the energy needed to get through the day-to-day responsibilities. Next stress will attack your ability to concentrate and remember things, which can lead to a loss of interest in work and boredom. This moves on to frequent muscle tension, headaches, illness and problems sleeping. After a while social withdrawal will be evident and some use alcohol or drugs to cope. I am getting stressed just reading that – and I can associate it with some of my past workplace experiences and those of my colleagues. Can you?
In workplaces where stress is an issue there are higher rates of absenteeism and staff turnover, reduced productivity, increased customer dissatisfaction and increased health compensation claims.
Common workplace stressors are: –
- How secure you feel in your job or business.
- Your workload is too much or there are constant distractions.
- You have no say in your workload and the work you are asked to do – or there is confusion over priorities and deadlines.
- Your job does not offer you flexibility and you cannot balance work and home life.
- Your work is boring or not stimulating you – you have lost your passion or purpose.
- You have too little or too much contact with people.
- You don’t have supportive relationships with co-workers, supervisors and/or clients. You may feel the victim of bullying, intimidation or inappropriate ‘humour’.
- You don’t have a clear understanding of what is expected of you. There is minimum praise, feedback and positive conversations about areas of improvement.
- Any changes are not communicated clearly, effectively and encouragingly.
- There are no or little opportunities and support for training, learning and professional development.
The causes of stress can be many and varied and each person will experience and deal with situations differently. The key is to acknowledge that unless you take action any stress over a extended period of time will adversely impact your productivity, relationships, health and wellbeing.
My top five tips for dealing with, managing and reducing stress:-
- Take care of yourself so that you are more resilient and stress resistant.
- Be mindful of eating to promote your health, strength and energy.
- Drink enough water each day to keep hydrated.
- Exercise regularly; even a short walk in a park at lunchtime will be of benefit.
- Get enough quality sleep, so that you can recover from the pressures of the day and feel more energised each morning.
- Have a relaxation practise where you can relax your whole body and release any tension in your muscles.
- Take time during your day to take some deep breaths. Shallow breathing tells your body it is stressed where as deep breathing sends the message that you are calm.
- Be organised and focused to minimise overwhelm.
- Have a diary and lists of priorities.
- Don’t over commit yourself or attempt to multi task.
- Include regular breaks/downtime. This time is important; it does not take away from your productivity, you will find this time increases your output at work and in your personal life.
- If you are unable to complete a task, ask for help, delegate or approach your supervisor or client and suggest another way to get task completed. Don’t leave it till it is too late.
- Take the ‘elephant beetle’ approach – if you are feeling a task is unpleasant or concerning you, get it out of the way first thing – minimise procrastination.
- Cultivate and encourage a good relationship with yourself and others.
- Recognise your stressors and your emotions. The trick to managing stress is identifying triggers before they have a chance to affect your results.
- Have a positive attitude and laugh regularly, a sure fire way to reduce the pressure build up.
- Share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust. Keep specific rather than generalise about the issues and situations you find challenging.
- If you are unsure, ask. If you think you have missed something, clarify. If you need help…. Ask.
- Notice and give praise for good work performance, to yourself and others in your workplace. There are always opportunities to recognise a job well done.
- If you would like opportunities for professional development, actively seek workplace policy on this. If there is none, find out if one could be developed, and point out the benefit to the business and yourself. If you are self employed regular professional development is a must –not a maybe.
- Be a part of social interaction in the workplace and business circles. Keep it appropriate, positive and frequent.
- Be clear on the values and direction of your workplace or business, and how working in it and on it benefits you. There is a reason you are there, focus on that rather than the things that drain you.
- Always take a balanced approach to your work and your life – time for your health, your family, your home, your friends, your work, your interests, your community and yourself!
What could you be doing differently this week to reduce your workplace stress – or the stress of a colleague, friend or family member?
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