Stress affects most people and many people will suffer from work-related stress at some point in their lives. Stress is most common amongst those that work long hours in a stressful or highly pressurised situation; doctors, financial sector workers and politicians are prone to stress, for example. Many people suffer from mild stress that can often be relieved by having a couple of days off work, spending time with friends or loved ones or exercising on a regular basis but many people suffer from severe stress, which can start to affect their mental health as well as their performance at work.
What are the effects of stress?
Stress can be really serious if it is left untreated; it often spirals out of control and can contribute to more serious health problems including severe anxiety and depression. Stress commonly causes the following symptoms:
- Changes in mood
- Changes in appetite
- Becoming withdrawn and quiet
- Feeling irritable and snapping at other people
- Lack of concentration
- Lack of energy
Stress can also cause the following physical symptoms:
- Heart palpitations
- High blood pressure
- Inexplicable aches and pains
- Dry mouth
Why do people feel stressed?
Stress in the workplace can be caused by a number of different factors; each person is different and everyone reacts to certain situations in a different way; some people thrive on pressure, while others cannot deal with fast-paced environments and often struggle to cope.
Common causes of workplace stress include:
- Bullying- either by colleagues or the management
- Increased work load
- Pressing deadlines
- Changes in the personnel, especially those in management as employees feel they have to make a good impression on new management
- Threat of redundancy
- Poor company performance (this has been particularly common since the recession hit)
- Formal warnings
Dealing with stress
Having a workforce that is able to deal with stress will increase the efficiency and efficacy of their work; numerous studies have shown that most workers underperform when they are suffering with stress. Experts recommend that employees take the following steps to manage stress:
- Be honest; if you’ve been given too much work to do, ask somebody for help, rather than stressing yourself out trying to get it all done
- Take a break; if you feel like you’re struggling to deal with stress, take a couple of days off as it will benefit both you and your employer in the long-run
- Seek help for any other sources of stress which may be affecting your performance at work; stress can be caused by a huge range of factors including family bereavement, illness, financial pressures and relationship breakdowns. If you are struggling to cope and need some help, see your GP.
- Try to separate your home and work lives; try not to think about work when you get home and make the most of your friends and family
- Exercise regularly; exercise is a great way of dealing with stress as it allows people to get rid of pent-up aggression and frustration, as well as contributing to a range of other health benefits.
- Speak out if you are being bullied by colleagues or your employer
- Take up activities which reduce stress; exercise such as yoga and Pilates, going for a massage or doing a hobby that allows you to escape from the grind of working life will all help to reduce stress.