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Stress Management in the Workplace
Stress is a fact of life and we all experience it at different times. Stress can be a good thing if it motivates you and propels you into action, which is needed in work environments. Stress can also be harmful and turn toxic, especially if it occurs over a long period of time or if you don’t have a way to cope with and manage it.
If unchecked, stress can negatively affect your emotions causing you to feel anxious, depressed or irritable and angry. The worry that often arises from stress can affect your sleep, eating, and health.
Your need to work makes work a critical function in your life and so you may feel anxious and stressed if your work security is challenged or undermined. Additionally, you may not like your work, but you feel you must attend and work, so the effect of working where you feel unhappy or struggle to feel engaged or motivated, will raise stress levels in yourself.
Your workplace itself may be toxic for a number of reasons, and this may be due to some individuals or the processes and systems of your workplace. In your workplace. the culture may promote toxic stress due to a number of factors that may include:
- High or unrealistic workloads
- Lack of clarity, definition or support for assigned work tasks or roles
- Bullying or discrimination in its various forms
- Real or imagined threats of demotion or dismissal based on work output or results
- Self induced stress due to perfectionism or lack of ability to cope
- Outside issues such as relationships or family that are creating stress for you
- Business and/or Economy is struggling so no one is safe
- Disruption via technology or new business models
- Slipping competitiveness due to new competitors
- Ageism where your contribution is devalued
- Unsafe workplace where danger exists or accidents happen
The physical signs of stress can be just as damaging and include headache, intestinal distress and sexual dysfunction. Stress also triggers inflammation. Stress has also been linked to premature aging and the visible changes that you want to avoid like fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin.
You may find you take off more days of sick leave or struggle at work with declining health, energy, focus, concentration or problem solving capability. You may also find stress incidents that do occur, overwhelm your already stressed state and you simply stop coping and break down.
You may find you worry a lot, and that intrusive negative or panic based thoughts arise when away from work, or even wake you from sleep. You may degrade from these effects and typically become emotionally reactive, negative, and fearful or paranoid in your thinking over time.
These outcomes increase the risk of dismissal or being passed over for bonuses or promotions so your workplace becomes a sort of Game of Thrones scenario where you fight to survive.
Most company HR practices and policies are not oriented towards stress reduction or stress awareness. Workers and management alike are left to fight their stress coping battles alone and cover it up lest that makes them seem weak or marked for dismissal or being labelled as non-performing.