Stress in the workplace is like a monster that lurks in the dark and can jump on you at any one time. It is a danger to be reckoned with. Stress adversely affects your work performance and your health. Some people do not even see it, but if you don’t intervene, you can even get burned out. In this article, I will talk about what causes stress and how you can do something about it.
I have dealt with stress in earlier articles. The attention is justified because stress often leads to burnout, a serious work-related health complaint that 8 percent of Dutch people suffered from or were on the verge of getting in 2019. And that was before the corona crisis. Read on about the 5 main causes of stress and how to deal with them.
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What is the definition of work stress?
Work stress refers to the (health) condition of a person. This condition can be the result of prolonged exposure to (a form of) work pressure. In the shorter term, work stress leads to physical consequences (such as headaches, increased blood pressure, palpitations), psychological consequences (for example feeling rushed, worrying, feeling tense, easily irritated), and/or behavioral consequences (such as poor sleep, lack of appetite or overeating, increasing complaining, concentration problems).
When an employee experiences work stress for a longer period of time, for example, because the work pressure remains high and there are insufficient recovery moments, an employee can develop health problems. Work pressure also has negative consequences for the company, such as lower performance and quality, less turnover, and higher absenteeism due to illness. It is therefore important for both the employer and the employee concerned to recognize the stress signals at an early stage and to discuss them so that measures can be taken.
You must first know the causes
1. Too much work
There’s nothing wrong with being busy, completing many great projects. But make sure you recognize your own limits. Don’t take too much on your plate. Because in that case, work will no longer be completed, it will pile up and that will start to gnaw at you. Doing nothing will bring you into a vicious circle, which will only know one end.
2. No recovery periods
Most people can handle a few hectic periods. After that you have to end up in calmer waters for a while, otherwise, your body and mind will not have time to recover and you will not fully lose the tension. After extremely busy times, check with your manager whether colleagues can take over some tasks from you. Take the time to fully recover, whether it is two weeks or two months.
3. Character traits
Some people handle pressure and stress better than others. And we all react differently to different types of stress, too. If you are positive and optimistic, you are probably less likely to suffer from stress. If you are a perfectionist who doesn’t stop until everything is right, you will not quickly feel peace and ultimately face the consequences.
4. Disagreements with managers
Studies consistently show that a lot of work stress is caused by clashes with a manager. Employers are also doing too little to prevent work stress. Unfortunately, many people do not really go along with their bosses and some can never respect a boss. The fact is that most of us do not like our managers.
5. Private situation
Please also be aware that the situation in your private life can be a factor. Things are not going well at home, you can’t tell your story after a tough week. If you also have relational problems in addition to the tensions at work, it can all go off the rails extra quickly. Working from home will only increase these tensions.
What are the signs of work stress?
The symptoms of work pressure initially lie in diminished alertness and concentration.
One can do a lot in a limited time period. Physically you may get hot and sweating a little, as to get rid of the heat is not uncommon. When the moment of stress has passed, these symptoms subside. The body has time to recover.
If the stress lasts longer and the employee does not have time to recharge, signals may arise at work. Think of lower productivity, difficulty with changes in the workplace or in the work. More cynical about the workload or the company, more irritable towards colleagues and dissatisfaction are also symptoms. The stressed employee can call in sick, just to take a day off from work to recover.
If you are often tired, sleep badly, feel unhealthy tension, and/or constantly feel that you are lagging behind, you are really going for burnout. So, try to prevent worse by applying the next measures.
Here are some simple measures to combat stress.
Talk about it
If things are not going well with colleagues or a manager, ring the bell with your boss or your HR manager in good time. Discuss things, take away the stress points, make a plan and solve issues together. I know that this can be difficult for some of you, but maybe you will find out that there are people who can help you. And if you find out to the contrary, you have learned that you have the wrong boss anyway.
Occasional relaxation is crucial for your health and ultimately leads to better work performance. You can think of walking around the block or grabbing a book to take your eyes away from the screen for a while. Going a little further, consider yoga, a popular relaxation method for those with a busy schedule. You can go to a yoga coach, but with a simple mat, you can start yourself.
Do not underestimate your work attitude. The calmer and more pleasant you are at your desk, the less tension. There are aids, such as massage cushions and even complete massage chairs, that help prevent annoying aches in the neck, shoulders, or back. Feeling at ease will do wonders for you.
Use other people
Every year, many people become overtired, emotionally confused, physically wrinkled, in short, burnt out. If you feel something is off, read informative articles or books to identify your specific symptoms and causes. Then make a plan of action. If you can’t figure it out yourself, it may be time to talk to a mentor. A professional stress or burnout coach can help you like no other with tackling your problems so that you prevent worse.
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So people, will you dare to take this small step and change your life forever? Let me know through the comment section what you think and I will reply within 24 hours. Thanks for your attention.