Work Stress

Are you suffering from work-related stress? Learn how to recognise the symptoms and manage stress easily.

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“Work stress” is something that we commonly experience in the workplace. Many of us feel that there is always the pressure for us to improve our work performance and increase our productivity.

Work stress often occurs when our capabilities or needs do not meet the requirements of our jobs. This could arise from a number of sources such as work overload, time pressure to meet deadlines, not liking the job and having to deal with difficult people at work.

While some stress may be good in motivating us to perform better and to increase our productivity, prolonged or excessive exposure to stress can lead to burnout. Burnout is the state of physical, psychological and emotional exhaustion which leaves you feeling overwhelmed or hopeless. When this happens, your productivity is reduced.

Effective management of personal and work stress can allow you to exert a positive influence over those around you and also prevent you from being affected by negativity from others.

Here are some tips to help you reduce work stress:

Understand the Effects of Work Stress

Recognise the different signs of work stress and how it can impact on us physically, psychologically and emotionally.

  • Physical impact:
    o Breathlessness
    o Fatigue
    o Headaches/Migraines
    o Insomnia
    o Loss of appetite
    o Numbness
    o Digestion problems
    o Reduced immunity
    o Tense muscles
  • Emotional impact:
    o Anxiety
    o Apathy
    o Depression
    o Frustration/Irritability
    o Restlessness
  • Psychological impact:
    o Difficulty concentrating
    o Diminished interest at work
    o Loss of confidence
    o Negativity
    o Poor judgment
    o Worry
    o Increased drinking or smoking to cope with work
    o Social withdrawal

Identify Your Sources of Work Stress

Work stress can come from one source or many sources. In order to deal with our stressors, we need to first know what is stressing us. Below are some examples of sources of work stress:
• Work conflicts
• Work overload
• Information gaps
• Blocked career oath
• Meaningless job

Resolve Your Conflicts At Work

If you feel that you have been unfairly treated at work, consider expressing your grievances in an assertive, non-aggressive manner instead of suffering in silence.

When you are faced with problems dealing with a difficult superior or co-worker, do bear in mind that we can only be in control of our own feelings and reactions, and not the behaviours of others.

Manage Your Time Effectively

In order to achieve work-life balance, you need good time management skills.

First, make a plan. Create a list where you identify important tasks that you need to complete within the day, including leisure activities.

Next, work out your priorities by determining what is most urgent or most important to you. Always target the difficult tasks at a time when you feel most energetic (such as first thing in the morning) and leave the simpler tasks for later.

Procrastination is often the main cause for our lack of time, so self-discipline is very important.

Positively Reframe Your Negative Thoughts

Many of us experience recurring negative thoughts when we feel stressed. These thoughts often tell us that we are “stupid”, “incompetent” or “unable to cope”. Dwelling in these negative thoughts can deflate our morale and we become less motivated in our jobs. So it is important for us to reframe these thoughts in a more positive light.

Consider what you would say to a friend who is having these thoughts. You would probably say something encouraging such as “making one mistake does not mean that you are a failure”. In the same way we encourage our friends, we need to encourage ourselves  when we feel defeated.

Consider Enhancing Your Skills and Knowledge

The work environment is changing rapidly due to advancing technology. So it is important that we upgrade our skills and fill any knowledge gaps to maintain our competitiveness. We are all happy workers when we feel competent in our work.

Inject New Meaning into Your Job

Do you find your job meaningful? If the answer is no, perhaps it is now time for you to consider other job options. Ask yourself what is meaningful to you. Being able to help the less fortunate? Working with the elderly, maybe? Or, you may even consider expanding your current portfolio or develop your skills in another area.

Seek Professional Help

Many times, we keep things to ourselves to avoid burdening our loved ones with our problems. It is sometimes advisable to seek professional help, like talking to a psychologist to help you manage your stressors.

Learn to Relax

Remember the saying, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”? It is important for us all to engage in pleasurable activities in order to relax. All these can help:
• Have enough sleep
• Eat healthily
• Exercise
• Confide in your spouse, a family member or close friend. Do not bottle up your feelings
• Schedule “me” time. Set aside time to engage in your hobby or favourite activities such as playing music, watching a movie or going for massages
• Go for a holiday

Remember, work stress can lead to adverse impact on our physical, psychological and emotional health if it is not managed properly.



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