General Category

Managing Workplace Stress

Every job comes with stress, but the duration of stress is what matters in terms of your physical health and well-being. For example, in some situations, short-term stress may help you achieve a deadline or fill a huge work order.

On the other hand, when work stress becomes persistent and long-term; that is when it starts to interfere with everyday functioning, it has a negative impact on your well-being.

Common sources of workplace stress:

Categories of Job StressorsExamples of Sources of Stress
Task Design
  • Workload
  • Autonomy
  • Shift work/hours of work
  • Lack of Training
  • Lack of Appreciation
Role in the Organization
  • Role conflict
  • Uncertain job expectations/role ambiguity
Career Development
  • Under/over-promotion
  • Job security/insecurity
  • Lack of growth or advancement
Organizational Structure/Management Style
  • Poor communication
  • Little recognition for good performance
  • Lack of support
Work-Life Balance
  • Role/responsibility conflicts
  • Not enough balance between work and life
Workplace Conditions
  • Exposure to hazards
  • Exposure to unpleasant conditions
Interpersonal Relationships at Work
  • Conflicts with supervisors or co-workers
  • Threat of violence, safety, or harassment
  • Prejudice or discrimination

Source: OSH Answers Fact Sheet Workplace Stress-General

Effects of workplace stress

When stress becomes long-term it can cause negative effects on the body including:

  • headache
  • muscle tension or pain
  • chest pains
  • increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • fatigue/insomnia
  • stomach and digestive issues
  • high blood sugar
  • increased cholesterol
  • depression
  • obesity

Stress also affects your mood and thinking by:

  • increased forgetfulness, anxiety, restlessness, mood swings, and anger, etc.
  • decreased ability to think clearly and focus.

How to manage workplace stress

By learning how to be proactive when dealing with workplace stress, you can reduce the risks associated with chronic stress.

There are basic steps you can take to manage stress:

  • Track your stressors: Identify which situations at work create the most stress and how you responded to them. By recording your responses or information about the situation you can identify the stressors and then learn how to appropriately manage them.
  • Develop healthy responses: Instead of dealing with stress by eating fast food or drinking alcohol try exercising or doing an activity or hobby that brings you pleasure (i.e., reading, going to a concert, or spending time with friends/family). Also, try to reduce your caffeine intake and make sure you are sleeping enough.
  • Establish boundaries: Establish work-life boundaries for yourself this includes making a rule to not check your work phone or work email while at home.
  • Learn how to relax: Learn techniques such as mediating or deep breathing exercises as a way to reduce stress. By taking 5-10 minutes every day to focus on being mindful and focusing on an activity without facing distractions it can help reduce your overall stress level.
  • Take time to recharge: To avoid the negative effects of long-term stress take time off of work when possible to replenish and return to pre-stress levels. By taking this time off to relax and unwind you will return to work ready to perform at your highest capacity.
  • Talk to your supervisor: Sit down with your supervisor and come up with an effective plan for managing your workplace stressors. Since employee wellbeing is linked to productivity, it is in your boss’s best interest to create a workplace that promotes well-being.
  • Get support: Getting help from a friend or family member can improve your ability to manage stress. Also, try to access any wellness resources through your workplace’s employee assistance program (EAP).
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