2017-07-12 / Society

Get a handle on work-related stress

Work-related stress is an all too common problem in workplaces across the globe. According to the American Institute of Stress, 80 percent of workers report feeling stress on the job. Perhaps most troubling, nearly half of those people admit they need help in learning how to manage their stress.

The American Psychological Association notes that stressful work environments can contribute to a host of physical problems, including headache, sleep disturbances and short temper. Chronic stress can produce more serious consequences such as high blood pressure while also weakening sufferers’ immune systems. Stress at the workplace also can make it difficult to concentrate, which in turn can compromise workers’ abilities to perform at the peak of their abilities. That supports the notion that stress is a problem for both employees and employers. As a result, finding ways to reduce that stress should be a team effort.

Getting a handle on stress can be difficult. Since so many people trace their stress to the jobs they need to get by, they might think it’s impossible to address that stress without derailing their careers. But there are a handful of ways for professionals to get a handle on their stress without negatively affecting their careers.

• Speak up about your stress. As noted, stress at the workplace can affect workers’ performance, which employers are looking to optimize. Workers can speak to their employers if they feel their work environments are conducive to stress. Work in tandem with an employer to develop time-saving strategies that make it easier to get work done on time. Supervisors may encourage employees to delegate more often, freeing up time to get their work done. Employers may also direct employees to wellness resources that can help them more effectively combat stress. The outcomes of such discussions may never be known if workers never take the initiative and speak up about their stress.

• Take more time off. According to the “State of American Vacation 2016” report from Project: Time Off, American workers failed to use 658 million vacation days in 2015. Vacation is not just a time to get away, but a valuable, effective way for workers to recharge. The APA notes that avoiding the negative effects of chronic stress and burnout requires workers to take time away to replenish and return to their pre-stress level of functioning. Taking time off to disconnect from work and avoid thinking about work can be just what workers need to overcome their work related stress. And plenty of workers have the time to take off; they just need to take it.

• Embrace relaxation methods. The APA recommends professionals coping with workplace stress embrace techniques that can effectively alleviate stress. Such techniques include meditation and deep-breathing exercises and can help workers develop their ability to focus purposefully on a single activity. That improved focus may help workers better navigate hectic working environments without succumbing to the stress such environments can produce.

Work-related stress is a significant issue for many professionals. But working in tandem with their employers can help professionals effectively cope with that stress.

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