According to a study, Eighty percent of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress.
What is Stress?
Stress… Stress… Stress… everyone everywhere is talking about it. Stress is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “a state of emotional or mental tension or strain caused by demanding or adverse circumstances.”
We all experience stress in various forms and degrees in every day of our life, whether it may be a top-level executive in an office or a small child going to school, all are facing the stress. When a person is under stress it can lead to an inability to ‘think straight’; causing a snag in both his work and home life. When people cannot handle the stress, it results in anxiety which can be detrimental to health.
Firstly, let’s make one thing clear: Stress is not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing. Without stress, mankind would not have survived. Actually, stress is the defense mechanism of the human body, which is known as the “fight-or-flight” mechanism. But it should be only in a small dose. The pre-historic man, for example, used the onset of stress to warn him of potential danger, such as a tiger or a snake. Stress is thus not a disorder, but a state of adverse reaction people have to extreme pressure or other types of demand placed on them. Stress management is the need of the hour and, nowadays, everyone in this world is trying to find ways and means to come out of it.
Causes for Stress at work:
These days stress and anxiety have become synonyms for work. It affects productivity, which may prove to be very expensive for the employer. So, we should be smart enough to act instantly and nip the stress in the bud stage itself before it magnifies itself.
Workplace stress can be caused by a number of factors, including:
* Excessively heavy workloads and tight deadlines. Sometimes even insufficient workloads can be a reason
* Long working hours
* Role uncertainty
* Few promotional opportunities
* Workplace bullying, harassment or discrimination
* Boring job content or work
* Under-used skills or insufficient skills for the job
* Lack of proper resources/equipment or Inadequate working environment
* Poor working relationships with colleagues or bosses
* Lack of autonomy or Bad management/leadership
* Poor physical working environments
* Unequal pay
* Changes within the organization
* Job insecurity
Signs of Stress
We all know that some stress is inevitable while at work, but there comes a time where it moves from being a temporary issue to one that is excessive and ongoing. If an employee starts acting differently, it can be a sign that he is stressed.
The following signs and symptoms may indicate that worker/workers is/are suffering from stress:
Signs of stress in teams
The signs of stress in a team may be like:
- Rising stress reports
- Increased sickness absence
- Decreased performance
- Growing complaints and grievances
Signs of stress in an employee
There may be signs of stress in an employee, like:
* Increased absenteeism
* Arrive for work later
* Concentration difficulties
* Mood swings
* Indifference or reduced work performance
* Alcohol or drug use
* Sadness, depression or anxiety
* Change in appetite, eating more or less
* Complaints of headaches, dizziness, aches or other physical symptoms
* Irritable and argumentative behavior
* Being withdrawn
* Loss of motivation, commitment, and confidence
* Increased emotional reactions like being more sensitive or aggressive or tearful
Employer’s Role in reducing stress and anxiety in the workplace
Employers must gauge the risks of work-related stress in their workplace and take necessary action to protect their employees. Employers need to give confidence to their employees that they are aware of their employees’ stress levels and share with them on how to reduce stress in the workplace.
1. Offer a flexible work environment and remote working
A flexible working environment and remote working for the employees have a hugely positive impact on an employee’s health and overall well being. It can also be great for your company, improving morale and increasing productivity.
2. Encourage social activity
Employees spend a lot of time together, and the more comfortable they are with one another, the less stressed out they feel. When they get to understand their coworkers better, communication barriers are broken down, paving the path for easier future interactions. Organizing activities like games, providing opportunities for self-development, celebrations, recognition of achievements and milestones enhance employee satisfaction and loyalty, thereby encouraging creativity and innovation for a better workplace and bigger profits
3. Recognize the work done by employees
Employees love being praised for a job well done and when there is recognition for their hard work it results in a serious boost in engagement. As no two employees are alike, be mindful when and how to recognize them. For example, some employees may like an appreciation of company-wide email, while others may like an appreciation call out during a meeting. When their performance is recognized and appreciated, the employees are happy with it thereby, lowering their stress levels.
4. Revamp the habitat
Most of the stress comes from the environment. The employer must consider every aspect of office space and what it does for the wellness of his team. Simple things like the height of the cubicle or the quality of the coffee can affect employee enjoyment. Any changes that boost employee enjoyment will leave them feeling less stressed.
5. Encourage workplace wellness
Exercise and healthy living are the two best weapons to beat workplace stress. Exercise can divert employees’ minds off their job stress to focus on the task at hand. The employer has to implement the following for the wellness of his employees.
- Encourage the employees to go on a walk during lunch breaks
- Offer nutritious and healthy snacks in the office, for the employees as the employees feel very happy when their health is taken care of.
Thus, by following the above routine, you can be a great employer by leading by example to create a less stressful workplace not only for your employees but even yourself.
20 Strategies for employees to reduce their stress and anxiety at the workplace
1. Start early for work
Even a few minutes can make the difference between madly rushing and having time to ease into your day. If you are always running late, set your clocks and watches a bit fast to give yourself extra time and decrease your stress levels.
2. Organize your workspace and schedule
Before you start work each day, allot a few minutes to remove any day-old coffee cups, tidy up your papers on your table, empty waste paper basket, and open a window to let in some fresh air.
When it comes to your schedule, assess what you can control like, the order in which you’ll complete certain tasks or when to take your lunch break and what is compulsory like the meeting with your boss. This will help you maintain as much control as possible over your everyday routines.
3. Be clear on requirements
Unclear requirements contribute to job burnout. If you are not clear about the requirements talk with your supervisor and go over the expectations and strategies for meeting them. This can relieve stress for both of you.
4. Stay away from conflict
It is human instinct to avoid contact with people who make us uncomfortable, and the workplace is no exception. But, this may worsen work anxiety symptoms over time. Hey guys!! Your workplace is not an area for hiding and seeks games. In such unpleasant situations, ‘Contact’ is a muscle you have to tighten to make it stronger. The more you approach problems and communicate positively, the less anxious it will make you over the long term.
5. Forget multitasking
Multitasking was once considered as an excellent way to maximize one’s time and get more done in a day. But when the actual reality dawned on them, people realized that when they had a phone in their ear and were making calculations at the same time, their speed and accuracy (not saneness) suffered. Remember, multitasking is not everyone’s game.
6. Change position at regular intervals
The sedentary lifestyle of employees results in many health issues. Changing your position at work or stretching or walking or practicing yoga can help you lift your mood, blow off steam, and get into better shape. This can relieve tension in your body and mind.
7. Stress relief breathing
Stress relief breathing exercises at any time during the day (when you realize that you are stressed) calms your body right then and there. Breathing exercises are a great overall stress reducer.
8. Practice meditation regularly
This is one powerful stress reducer. A few minutes of meditation may immediately put you in a calmer, present state, with your stress response turned back to pre-stress levels. Those who practice meditation regularly can find even greater benefits.
9. Listen to the right music while driving to the office or home
If you are a music lover, listening to music brings many benefits and can offer an effective way to relieve stress before and after work too. Listening to music with a calm tempo can relax your body and mind.
10. Gratitude journaling
Changing your focus from what’s stressing you to what is blessing you can have a real impact on your mood and your overall sense of well being. You must maintain a daily list of three things you’re grateful for, which can lift your spirits. This is because, when you’re in a good mood, you are more likely to see opportunities and take advantage of them. What a great state of mind to get into at work!
11. Find a silent place
Just finding a place to have some silent time can be great for stress relief. If you are able to find a bench in a beautiful park close to where you work, the sights, sounds, and feel of nature can help you to feel more peaceful and less entrenched in stress. Add a quiet meditation to the routine.
12. Lighten the mood
When used rightly, humor is a great stress buster at the workplace. When everyone in the workplace starts taking work too seriously, lighten the moment by sharing a funny story or a joke.
13. Know each and every one by name
Having a direct relationship with every single person in the office makes it easier to handle problems with the concerned individual rather than gossiping or venting to others. Start by knowing people’s names and their responsibilities. If you do not remember a person’s name, don’t be embarrassed to ask again. It’s never too late to start building stronger relationships at the office.
14. ASK for help when you need help
When work is hectic, it becomes very easy to say “yes” even when you are not sure how to do something. But the embarrassment of asking for help or clarification is worth it in the long run, and it can decrease overall anxiety about responsibilities. Asking for help also conveys to your superiors that you are serious about that job.
15. Do not neglect quality sleep at night
Sometimes you do not have the time to get a full night’s sleep. But insufficient sleep interferes with your daytime productivity, problem-solving skills, creativity and ability to focus. The better sleep you have, the better equipped you will be to tackle your job responsibilities and cope with workplace stress.
16. Set genuine timelines/deadlines
Anxious people sometimes will agree to timelines and deadlines that they know they cannot meet. Often it is better, to be frank than to apologize later. Not every deadline is negotiable, but it will save you hours of anxiety if you can be frank and work at a manageable pace. And if you finish the job before time, that will make you look even better.
17. Encourage face-to-face conversations
It can be extremely difficult to convey emotions and intentions electronically. Most of the workplace stress comes from misinterpreting emails or waiting to hear back about a difficult subject. If an issue is making you very anxious, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or have a face-to-face conversation to clarify things.
18. Access to employee assistance programs (EAPs)
Many workplaces offer counseling through Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to help you handle anxiety. Though it may be discouraging to speak up about your anxiety, when you take the answerability for your wellness, you serve as a role model for others in the workplace.
19. Chuck out your negative thinking
If you focus on the negative side of every situation and interaction, you will find yourself drained of energy and motivation. Try to avoid negative co-workers, think positively about your work, and appreciate yourself about small accomplishments, even if no one else does.
20. Adapting to the stressful situation
You cannot always control what you are facing, but you have a choice in how you face it. You can decide the attitude you take, and whether we face each challenge as a threat or a challenge. Viewing the situation as a challenge helps you to mobilize your resources and allows you to achieve a situation more easily while viewing the same situation as a threat can lead to a greater tendency to feel stressed and shut down.
If you can solve a problem, why worry then? If you cannot solve the problem worrying will not do any good. In fact, it is not stressed that it is killing you. It is your reaction to it. A change in attitude towards stress and the right approach goes hand in hand. The magic mantra is, ‘Overcome resistance to stress and understand that you cannot control what happens outside’. However, you can control and modify what happens inside you. So, do it and see this magic work wonders for you.
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