Recognizing, Understanding, And Managing Workplace Stress Symptoms
Work is stressful sometimes, whether due to the inherent nature of your given field (e.g., social work) or the particular demands of your job (e.g., accountant during tax season). Recognizing and understanding stress, both its sources and how it impacts you, as well as what you can do to manage it, is crucial to the development of your career and the maintenance of your personal well-being.
If ignored, stress can lead to serious consequences with regard to your personal health and well-being. Workplace stress can also develop to the point where it has a detrimental impact on the overall work environment and level of productivity.
Workplace stress manifests in symptoms that can take a variety of forms. Physical stress symptoms, such as headaches, muscle tension, chest pain, fatigue, or insomnia may develop. You may notice emotional stress symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, lack of motivation, or difficulty focusing may. There may even be behavioural and cognitive stress symptoms, such as changes in appetite, drug abuse, forgetfulness, poor judgment, disorganization, or negativity.
If you are experiencing these severe symptoms, first try to evaluate the source: are you struggling with aspects of the work that are inherently stressful? Are you questioning whether the field or your particular position are a good fit for you? Are your stress symptoms exacerbated by conditions within the office itself? Does your organization have policies or programs geared to address workplace stress? Is there someone you can talk to about your concerns? Are you in a position where you can take a role in developing office policy and programs?
Once you have a handle on what is causing your stress symptoms, you can better evaluate the next steps you should take, which may include medical and therapeutic interventions to address your personal symptoms, working with a life coach on career or work-life balance issues, or looking for opportunities in your office to create a work environment that provides needed support for employees.
Managing workplace stress symptoms and developing a supportive work environment are in the interest of both you and your organization.
The Labour Force Survey statistics for 2013/2014 indicate that 39 percent of the total reported work-related illnesses were due to stress, depression, or anxiety. The total number of lost work days because of stress, depression, or anxiety was 11.3 million, or an average of 23 days of work missed for each reported case of work-related stress, depression, or anxiety.
These numbers are concerning, but work-related stress is manageable. The first step is recognizing the symptoms. Once you have recognized the symptoms, you are free to take action to improve your personal situation and that of your workplace. Next, identify the sources of the stress and look for ways to manage them both personally and professionally. You will be more fulfilled in your job, and you will be able to contribute to a more positive work environment for everyone. Thes contribute to moving your organization forward in meeting its goals and fulfilling its mission.
If you would like help with stress management in your life and in your career, please contact me.
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