Understanding and Managing Stress at Work

There are ways to manage workplace stress.

You are not alone if you have ever felt stressed, anxious, or tense about your job. The workplace has experienced a steady increase in stress over the last several decades. This stress is now at record levels since the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Most members of the US workforce experience stress daily. This is also a factor that affects their overall satisfaction with their careers.

The following section will discuss how to manage workplace stress.

What is the most common cause of stress in the workplace?

The stress response is something we all experience from time to time. It’s a human reaction to situations perceived as difficult or dangerous. We all feel stressed from time to time, whether because of our personal relationships, responsibilities at home and work, or other life events.

People experience stress because of their occupation or job, which can affect workers from any field or industry. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, about 65% of American workers find that work is a significant or somewhat stressful source.

While there are many reasons for stress at the office, the following are some of the most common reasons:

  • Beyond your job role, you may also have other responsibilities
  • You have too many responsibilities in a job role
  • You may find that your workload has increased.
  • No control over situations
  • Working in a hostile environment or experiencing discrimination

A variety of factors can cause stress.

A large Study from 2022 Trusted Source that involved over 13,000 workers found factors such as the education level of the worker, their working hours, and their industry to all have an impact on stress. A smaller study by Trusted Source also found similar findings, with factors such as work intensity and the environment significantly impacting office workers’ stress levels.

Workplace Stress Statistics

Work-related stresses affect as much as 83%. The American Psychological Association states that the percentage of employees who report work-related stress continues to rise every decade.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a trusted source, has compiled some statistics on the impact of workplace stress.

  • 29% of workers say they are a little stressed at work
  • 40% of employees find their work “very stressful or extremely stressful.”
  • 25 % of employees experience burnout and stress regularly at their job
  • 25% of employees report their job as their primary source of stress
  • 75% of employees say that they are stressed out at work today.

What is burnout?

Stress is not just an emotional reaction — it can also lead to physical symptoms. Stress can have a physical impact on us.

Prolonged stress may also cause several health conditions. Burnout describes mental and physical exhaustion due to prolonged exposure to high-stress levels. Many stressors cause burnout. But according to WHO, it is most commonly associated with high levels of occupational stress.

Symptoms like emotional exhaustion and increased anger can characterize burnout.

The Importance of Collaborative Stress Management in the Workplace

Stress in the workplace is a common issue that affects both employees and employers. While employees may feel the immediate impact of stress, employers also face long-term effects such as decreased productivity and increased healthcare costs. Therefore, stress management should be a collaborative effort between employees and employers.

A study on 15 employees from various occupations found that stress prevention measures include adequate staffing, appropriate workload, frequent break times, and open communication. These measures can help reduce stress levels in the workplace and improve the overall well-being of employees.

One practical approach to stress management is adopting a wellness approach. Here are some ways a wellness approach can help improve stress in the workplace:

  • Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness exercises, such as meditation, can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being.
  • Movement: Incorporating mindful exercises like yoga can significantly reduce work-related anxiety.
  • Therapy: Seeking therapy from a trained mental healthcare professional can help employees develop different coping techniques to manage their stress at work better.
  • Connect: Employees who feel stressed or burnt out should communicate their concerns to their manager. The company may have employee resource groups set up to reduce stress levels in the workplace culture.

While there are many approaches to stress management, taking the first step can be challenging. If the stress of your job is affecting your quality of life, it’s essential to consult your doctor for the next steps.

Remember, stress management is a collaborative effort requiring employees and employers to work together. By adopting a wellness approach, companies can create a positive work environment and improve the overall well-being of their employees.

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