Stress is our emotional and physical response to pressure. That pressure can arise from external factors including life events, illness, living conditions, work, home, and family, or the demands we place on ourselves.
But what causes stress for employees in the workplace?
- Nearly a quarter of UK adults say that work causes them to feel stress
- 18% say their workload makes them stressed
- 14% of UK workers say working hours are a stress factor for them
- 11% say work colleagues contribute to their stress while at work
- One in every ten UK adults say that their boss makes them feel stressed
- 8% say that commuting to the workplace causes them stress
The effects of too much stress:
Too much stress can affect our mood, our body, and our relationships – especially when it feels out of our control. It can make us feel anxious and irritable and affect our self-esteem. Experiencing a lot of stress over a long period of time can also lead to a feeling of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion often called burnout.
How to recognize stress in yourself or others:
There are many different factors that contribute to stress and it can manifest itself through thought processes such as:
- ‘This is too much – I can’t cope!’
- ‘It’s unfair. Someone should be helping me.’
- ‘I haven’t got enough time.’
- ‘I’ll never finish.’
- ‘I must get this done.’
These thoughts can then manifest in behaviours and feelings of anxiety, impatience, anger, depression or hopelessness. They also may feel overwhelmed, exhausted and isolated.
People may experience physical sensations such as faster breathing, tense muscles, feeling hot/sweaty, headaches, difficulty in concentrating, feeling agitated, and having bladder or bowel problems.
They may also see displayed the following behaviours such as forgetfulness, being unable to settle, constantly busy, rushing about, having lots of tasks on the go but not finishing them, signs of sleep disturbance, shouting or arguing, eating more (or less), drinking/smoking/using drugs more to cope, feeling the urge to cry, sighing more frequently and withdrawing from friends and colleagues.
These types of thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and behaviours can carry on over from family life into work-life and vice versa. Below are tips on how you can manage, or help others deal with stress in the workplace, so it doesn’t leak into other accepts of life.
Tips on dealing with stress and burnout, for either you, a work colleague or someone in your team:
Identify your triggers – this will help you compartmentalize stress causes and make possible solutions easier to identify. What can you do in order to draw a boundary between your home and work life?
Focus on what you can control – Write down everything that is filling your headspace. Then ask yourself, what things can you control or influence? By focusing on what you can control, your actions will have an impact. It is simply a waste of your time and energy to focus on things that you cannot control which will leave you feeling demotivated and no further forward in dealing with your challenges.
Challenging thinking errors – Thinking errors are faulty patterns of thinking that are self-defeating. They occur when the things you are thinking do not match up with reality. For example, you find you are making a mountain out of a molehill or that you are confusing your perception of things over facts and reality. A stressful mind is much more susceptible to thinking errors so it helps to be aware of them when they happen.
Think of things you can do differently, or you can suggest to someone else:
|Feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs to be done
|Split up big tasks by breaking them down into easier chunks and give yourself credit for completing them.
|Feelings of isolation and/or loneliness
|Reach out to your trusted friends, family, and colleagues. Contacting a helpline can also help us when we are struggling.
|Feelings of exhaustion, anxiety, burnout
|Take some time out, do something that will help relax and unwind you. Being active can help you to burn off nervous energy. It will not make your stress disappear, but it can make it less intense.
|Feelings of frustration, depression, anger, irritability
|Take time to think about the good things in your life. Each day, consider what went well and try to list 3 things you are thankful for. How we think affects the way we feel – if you tend to have more of a negative outlook on things, it may be time to challenge the way you think.