Understanding the causes and effects of workplace stress
Understanding the causes and effects of workplace stress is important to developing strategies for change. The critical component of any stress management program is the belief that alternatives exist. Feeling trapped and without choices, is perhaps the greatest stressor of all.
There are two ways to approach stress management in the workplace. You can reduce environmental stressors in the workplace and/or change your response to this stress. Discussing your concerns and suggestions with a supervisor often yields positive results.
My suggestions for change include:
- Be appropriately assertive and don’t feel guilty about setting boundaries and limits; say no when necessary.
- Recognize that stressful situations often result from someone else’s inefficiency and tendency to manage by reactive, crisis techniques rather than proactive postures.
- Personal problems can cause individuals to function in an unhealthy way. In these situations, recognize that you did not cause the problems and are not responsible for their consequences. Seek support from others in order to clarify your position and avoid being a scapegoat.
- Practice relaxation skills and avoid using unhealthy escape mechanisms such as alcohol or drugs. Exercise is an excellent way to deal with stress and the biochemical effects of tension and pressure. Take a brisk walk at lunch or exercise regularly after work.
- Become more efficient with your time and learn to avoid “time-wasters” such as unnecessary phone calls, “drop-ins”, and gossiping. Strive to maintain a focus and agenda, and be a leader who is committed to keep things moving during meetings.
If your stressful workplace situation is unchangeable, and the toll it is taking on you is too great, then seeking options of other employment may be necessary. Changing jobs for the right reason is nothing to be ashamed of and may lead to a much healthier situation in the long run.