Work-related stress is very common. Many people find themselves stressed during the workweek. Some have had the habit of working long hours, even during the weekends. Research has shown that work-related stress can lead to negative health consequences. For example, overworking is found to be detrimental to a person’s physical and mental health. It may lead to serious heart diseases and metabolic syndrome.
Work-related stress can get to most of us. Sometimes our pursuit of perfectionism at work exacerbates the problem. Long-term work-related stress can lead to fatigue, insomnia, digestive problems, heart diseases, and chronic depression. These cannot be healed by simply taking a vacation every year. The kind of stress that has been building up at work should be managed on a day-to-day basis.
Sources of Workplace Stress
Work-related stress may come from the increasing demand for professionals to multi-task. Although the ability to multitask is an admirable competence, it is also found to increase inattention and impulsivity because the human brain is not built to multitask. Media multitasking (consuming more than one type of medium simultaneously), in particular, can be associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Poor time management and disorganization at work may create stress. Some people have the habit to procrastinate until the last minute. Others are simply overwhelmed with a heavy load of demands from the boss and co-workers. When a company culture values output over self-care of employees, this tends to breed an overworked culture and there is always a lack of enough time to complete the necessary tasks.
Long working hours may also lead to physical discomfort. For example, office jobs that require employees to sit for hours may cause many health issues. Sometimes there are work hazards such as noise and dust, which can also harm one’s physical health.
Apart from the above circumstances, interpersonal conflicts at the workplace can also create a great deal of stress. One needs to know how to navigate the complexities while getting the work done. Some work environments have toxic personalities that make working there a painful and even traumatic experience. Emotional abuse may happen during employer-employee relationships.
Understanding the Body’s Response to Chronic Stress
Imagine when you are trying to meet a certain deadline, your boss gives you another assignment. Your body and mind instantly respond. Your heart beats faster, your breath quickens, and your muscles tense up. The mind also begins managing your anxiety, sometimes triggering complaints and a range of negative emotions. Then you decide to put in extra hours tonight to complete the task.
Our body responds to work burnout by releasing stress hormones, causing exhaustion, cognitive blur, and anxiety. These not only affect our emotional and mental well-being but our behaviors towards others. Work-related stress can strain relationships both at work and at home. It prevents you from being fully present in life.
The Importance of Self-care in the Workplace
To prevent these stressors at work from derailing your life, you need to integrate self-care principles into your workdays. Practicing self-care means prioritizing a calm pace, your own space of emotional sobriety, and healthy boundaries in terms of managing workload and relationships.
For example, make sure that your morning starts with a slow pace and allow a sense of calmness to guide your actions. Many people arrive to work already stressed. This makes them more reactive to stress in the workplace. You should ensure a good night’s sleep and start the day with ease.
Pay attention to your emotional health throughout a working day. If you feel overwhelmed or stressed, make sure you pause and give yourself a moment to breathe. Maybe take a break to practice mindfulness exercises. Do not skip your lunch break or feed your mind with media consumption during breaks. Safeguard these times as your personal space to slow down and recuperate, both physically and emotionally.
Learn to maintain a healthy boundary on what workload you take on. Do not say yes to every additional request from your employer. If you feel overwhelmed by the workload, have some communication strategies and verbalize your concerns to your supervisor. Meanwhile, stay away from interpersonal conflicts at work. Even when you have to get involved, learn how to de-escalate.
Building Physical Exercises Into Your Work Day
For people who spend most of their time working in an office, having simple physical exercises during the day can greatly boost energy and emotional wellbeing at work. You can set an alarm clock for breaks to stretch and walk around. During lunch hour, take a walk around your office building while enjoying some quiet time yourself.
You can also advocate for workplace wellness and suggest the company carve out a space for quiet meditation and mindfulness. Having the whole work crew involved in self-care may even gradually change a company’s competitive culture. It reminds everyone that life is much bigger than working alone, and co-workers can flourish together as their full selves.
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