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Techniques to Reduce Workplace Stress

February 25, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 156

Workplace related Stress

We all understand stress, but what is "work related stress"? Is it actually any different? Absolutely! Between a poorly designed job or working environment to people who are behaving badly, work related stress can actually ruin someone's life. In order to understand work related stress, let's quickly review the formal definition of "stress".

What is Stress?

If you look up the word "stress" you quickly discover that it is a noun and a verb. In the context of the workplace, however, it is most often associated with someone feeling a lot of "stress". In general, it means that there is a lot of pressure being exerted on a person that is resulting in emotional or mental strain. This then manifests into many things.

For example, someone with a lot of financial stress is going to begin to feel exhausted all of the time, helpless and can become depressed about the situation quickly. People in the midst of a tumultuous relationship will have a lot of emotional stress as well.

When we use this definition to better understand work related stress, we can see that it usually means that someone is feeling a lot of demands and pressures that cannot be met or that they may even feel in conflict with managers or co-workers. They could feel as if constantly threatened in terms of job security and this too is considered work related stress.

Good versus Bad

Now, before we look at the symptoms of stress in the workplace, let's take a moment to clarify that there are actually some examples of "good stress". For instance, when you have a manager who knows you can do better and who exerts pressure on you to meet some demands, that may feel stressful, but it is going to result in a direct benefit to you. On the other hand, you may work for someone who keeps saying "do better," and who is just continually upping the number of tasks and expectations being placed upon you. This is a simple illustration of good versus bad, but you can see that you need to always distinguish the types of pressure you feel. It is also useful to recognize the most familiar indicators of someone who is experiencing true work related stress...

Symptoms and Effects of Stress

There are three types of symptoms exhibited by those dealing with work related stress - the behavioral, emotional or psychological, and the physical.

The physical include:

Headaches;Insomnia;Digestive upset;Skin conditions;Fatigue;Muscle tension and soreness; andHeart palpitations.

The psychological symptoms include:

Depression;Anxiety;Inability to cope with most challenges;Inability to make decisions or think clearly;A sense of negativity or pessimism; andA sense of discouragement.

The behavioral are very worrisome and include:

Aggressiveness or hostility;Lack of interest in work;Dramatic mood swings;A sense of isolation;Displays of indifference or disinterest; andA tendency to take more and more "sick days".

Of course, most people have a difficult time drawing the line between emotional upset at work and their "real life". This means you have to also understand work related stress outside of the office...

Outside of Work

Many people with work related stress fall into the "blame game". They begin to view themselves as "trapped" if they are the primary "breadwinner". For instance, they feel that their family is the one issue forcing them to deal with the intolerable work situation because they cannot quit and lose the income.They may also begin to isolate themselves because they don't want to burden their family or friends with this issue.

Unfortunately, one of the worst issues associated with work related stress is the impact on individual health. For instance, most experiences of stress result in the release of certain chemicals and hormones in the brain. This causes the body to begin reacting in an artificial way (for instance, the famous "fight or flight" response that increases heart rate and causes all kinds of bodily reactions). Over time, this can lead to illness that is chronic and even life threatening. Fortunately, there are many approaches that can be used to cope with work related stress. These include "self help" and they also include approaching management.

Coping Strategies

Self-help approaches are usually very simple to implement, but they do require the individual to be aware of themselves and their reactions. For example, a good list of self-help strategies would include:

Explore relaxation techniques such as meditation, Pilates, and yoga;Give yourself a few hours to sit quietly and contemplate what would have to change at the office in order for stress to be reduced or ended, and then make action plans. Having plans is often a way to begin to reduce anxiety and upset;Begin eating healthy foods and doing exercise at work;Take all of your breaks and don't work at the desk through lunch hours if you can avoid this;Stop being a "yes" person and start being a "let me get back to you in a few minutes" person as this prevents you from taking on too many tasks;Recognize if you are taking things home and taking them out on family or friends;Do not resort to alcohol or drugs to calm down, if things are that bad you must seek a counselor to speak with about coping;Consider speaking with a job counselor to see if changing careers is a good idea; andSpeak directly with your manager if you feel that this might help to implement those changes you identified.

What if you know that self-help isn't going to be the answer? You can easily turn to the management as long as you have prepared in advance. This means:

Making a list of the real problems. Don't whine or complain in this list, instead really identify the issues:Is the workplace unsafe? Can you prove that?Is everyone trained?Are employees being "heard" when they complain?Is there a human resources office or someone to speak with easily and comfortably?Is there too few staff?Do employees get to have any "say" in policies?Understanding if stress is considered a "non issue" in the company. If that is the case, you may need to speak with a counselor to learn some strong coping tactics.

Work related stress is common, but it is not the same from place to place or person to person. This means that you have to come up with the best solution. What we can tell you is that most work related stress is easily resolved when the individual gets organized, prioritizes, recognizes where they are "going wrong" in terms of workload and the way the handle their day, and ensures they have enough "me time" during each day. This usually means taking breaks and using them effectively. Yes, that means doing workplace stretches, exercising at work, and eating the best diet possible. offers a free ebook and guide, as well an invitation to all to discuss your experiences on our community page at

Luke Norman is the author of "Stretching, Exercising, and Being Happier in the Workplace" and the founder of

Source: EzineArticles
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