Coping with stress at work

In today’s climate, stress can often be part and parcel of modern life. Just thinking about a busy job combined with juggling a social life and family commitments while trying to keep fit, eat well and get enough sleep can be enough alone to feel stressed. What’s more is that being busy, stressed and burning the candle at both ends of the spectrum can often be worn as badges of pride by many, particularly in the corporate world.

While stress is very common, that doesn’t mean it should be accepted and left to its own devices. It can be one of the most debilitating illnesses to affect someone if left untreated. Stress can be triggered by a range of things and can be difficult to diagnose.

What is stress?

Stress is the way your body reacts to a particular challenge or series of challenges. It is typically described as a negative condition that impacts a person’s mental and physical wellbeing.

What are some of the causes of stress?

Work-related stress can be brought on by a range of different challenges, such as:

  • Unreasonable work demands
  • Relationships at work
  • Inadequate work environment
  • Insecurity about the job and your performance

If I don’t immediately recognise it, what are some of the effects stress might have on me?

Stress affects people differently, but the typical effects of stress might include:

  • Physical (e.g. fatigue, headaches, health issues)
  • Psychological (e.g. anxiety, reduced concentration, feeling overwhelmed)
  • Behavioural (e.g. aggression, reduced work performance, impatience/frustration, increased absenteeism)

Prevention

Like many mental health issues, stress doesn’t have a simple cure, and often isn’t caused by one issue alone. However, some of the below methods can help to treat stress and lower its effect in your life.

Lead a healthy lifestyle

Eating well, exercise and maintaining a good work/life balance can help you be better equipped to deal with challenges as they come. During the pandemic and lockdowns, separating from work can be difficult, so try and set up your electronic devices to mute work-related notifications after a certain time so you can ‘switch off’. Another great thing to do to signify the end of the workday is to get changed like you might when you came home from the office or go for a walk or exercise after work, this can help your mind switch into relaxation mode.

Journaling

More and more people are discovering the benefits of journaling these days. While it can take on many forms, such as pen and paper, fancy apps or just writing in the notes on your phone, getting things out of your mind and into a coherent form, be it physical or digital can help to relieve the burden on your mind.

Speak to someone

Often, speaking with someone about your concerns and ‘getting it off your chest’ can significantly reduce the impact of the stress. Lightening your load by talking to a friend, family member or even colleague can be a great start, while talking to your doctor about further options such as seeing a therapist can be a good step to take.

If you have an issue with a colleague,

Raise it in a diplomatic fashion with them. The other person may have no idea that you are being affected. Speaking about it gives you both the opportunity to change things. Remember that people are unlikely to change their behaviour if they don’t realise what they’re doing is negatively impacting others.

While the above steps can certainly help you relieve stress over time, if you need to talk to someone urgently, the below resources can be helpful.

Support Services for Australia:

Support Services for New Zealand:


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