By Annette Y.
How many times have you told yourself that you thrive under stress in the workplace and that you always manage your workload, even if it means working harder and longer? Stress? That’s the thing that happens to others, isn’t it? You simply rise to the challenge time and time again and don’t moan about your job – well, not too much anyway.
Having a positive mental attitude in the workplace may well be an asset and it can certainly help to keep you one step ahead of stress-related symptoms but be careful. You may feel that you are keeping your head above water but if you are the type of person who internalises anxieties or pressures, then stress can slowly but surely impact your health.
It doesn’t matter where you work or the type of work you do, there will always be stressors surrounding you. There is a lot that you can do to alleviate the pressures of everyday life. Like most people these days, you might find that you are working longer and harder just to keep up with the day-to-day grind. Whether you work in a fast paced corporate environment, a busy retail chain or are on the go constantly, the pressure can really start to get you down.
Stress related illnesses are a huge problem. In the U.K. alone last year, the Office of National Statistics confirmed that 131 million days were lost due to sickness. Six out of ten employees often worked an average 1.5 hours of overtime each day with 79% of these being unpaid. These are worrying facts but not uncommon. It seems the work-life balance has never been so uneven.
The symptoms of stress can vary but include:
- IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome)
- High Blood Pressure
- Chest Pains
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you have to take them seriously and make immediate changes to protect your health. The most important thing is to take a long hard look at your work situation and decide just what you can do to make your environment better for you. It’s not so easy to just walk out of a job these days, even if you are tempted at times so it makes sense to seek solutions.
Remember that stress is a very individual thing. What affects you might not impact someone else’s life at all, but that doesn’t make it trivial. Identify the source of your stress and then consider your options:
- If your workload is too heavy, you need to discuss this with your line manager. The head down approach will not lessen the workload but asking for help may well alleviate some pressure.
- If you are in a job where expectations are high and you are struggling, try to incorporate positive affirmations into your life. Write your own positive statements and repeat them to yourself whenever you feel the need. They do work.
- If you are fed up with trying to juggle your workload, it can help to alleviate the pressure by writing down the pending jobs in order of priority. Carry forward non-essential jobs but focus on those that are urgent. Turn off your email for a while, as constant email can be extremely distracting.
- Learn some basic stress management techniques. In particular, learn to breathe through your tension and on the exhalation, breathe out all of the tension. If you are a visual person, picture the stress as a colour so that it becomes a more powerful aid. Too often we tighten up when we get stressed and we reduce the oxygen in our bodies.
- Learn to meditate. The best thing that we can do for our health, our minds and our sense of well-being is to meditate, and it will really combat the effect of stress. Luckily, it’s not so difficult and practice makes perfect.
The best way to manage stress at work is to acknowledge it and to face it head on. It can be difficult, especially if your issues lie with your immediate boss or the colleagues you work with. Just remember that we spend so much time in the workplace that we have to deal issues and not just let them affect us negatively. Whether you love your job or hate it, your health is too important to ignore stress and there is always a solution of sorts when you look for it.