Published May 29, 2012
Feeling stressed at work? We’ll you’re not alone. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, 41% of the more than 1,700 respondents say they typically feel stressed out on the job. Workplace stress is not uncommon, but how employees deal with it can have a negative impact on mental and physical health, and can cost businesses a lot of money.
“Stress costs U.S. industry well in excess of $300 billion a year in lost productivity, insurance claims, health costs, accidents and the need to replace workers,” says Paul Rosch, president of
The American Institute of Stress. “That’s more than the cost of all strikes combined or the net profits of Fortune 100 companies.”
Workplace stress can cause chronic headaches, gastrointestinal problems, heart attack, strokes, depression and anxiety to name a few ailments, according to experts. “Stress in general has negative effects on health,” says Dr. David Ballard, head of Corporate Relations and Business Strategy at the American Psychological Association. In the workplace, “it reduces job satisfaction and hurts morale.”
According to the American Psychological Association survey, low salary is a top stressor for workers; coming in second is lack of potential job growth. Other stressors include excessive workload, long hours and uncertain job expectations. Employees facing unsafe work environments, hostile co-workers or bad bosses also tend to be prone to higher stress levels at work.
Workplace stress it isn’t going to go away, however, there are ways to manage it.
Identify the Stressors
The first step in dealing with workplace stress is identifying the source. Once you know the catalyst, determine how you deal with it, and whether it’s something that can be fixed or managed.
“You want to tune in to how you cope with stress,” says Ballard. He says that once you recognize how you deal with stress, you can replace any bad behavior reactions like overeating or smoking with positive activities such as taking a walk or meditating.
According to stress expert Elizabeth Scott, being aware of your own stress level and reacting before you become overwhelmed can reduce stress-induced consequences like headaches or anxiety.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your boss or upper management about your stress source. If the culprit is something that can’t be fixed, come up with a plan of stress reducers that work for you.
In today’s fast-paced work environment, many people spend their entire day at their desk, even working through lunch. While logging long hours behind a desk may lead to increased productivity, it can also create undue heightened stress levels.
“Taking small breaks is one way to combat getting into an overwhelmed state,” says Scott. By taking short breaks you’ll be able to clear your heard and respond in a calm manner to any stressful situations rather than in a state of panic or anger, she says.
Take Care Outside the Office
Your lifestyle outside of the office plays a big part in your office stress levels. Experts say getting enough sleep, participating in activities and talking with supportive friends and families can help keep a more stable state of mind.
According to The American Institute of Stress, some stress relievers include exercise, yoga, engaging in a hobby, talking to friends or family and listening to music. Keep in mind that just like different things stress people out, the ways to reduce it vary.
“Stress is different for everybody. What’s distressful for some people is pleasurable for others,” says Rosch. “There’s no stress reduction strategy that is a panacea.”