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How To Manage Work Stress And Anxiety

What Do We Mean By ‘workplace Stress’

How to Deal with Stress at Work | Stress Management

Workplace stress can occur when there is a mismatch between the requirements of the role, your capabilities and resources and supports available.

Everyone knows what stress feels like and we’ve probably all experienced it at some stage at home, school or work, or while getting outside our comfort zone, but while this stress is normal, if it is ongoing, it can become a problem.

There are common stressors in most roles but also specific stressors for certain roles.

Find out more about specific stressors for these specific roles:

Managing Stress And Anxiety In The Workplace

Everyone experiences job-related stress. Whether its communicating with multiple people, juggling responsibilities or adhering to deadlines, workplace stressors are common. Short-term stressful moments are typical, but experiencing constant or long-term stress can affect your physical and emotional health. What begins as job-related stress can extend to other situations and impact your life outside of work as well. For people who are at risk of developing an anxiety disorder, stress in the workplace can trigger anxiety symptoms and lead to chronic illness.

Understanding the difference between work-related stress and anxiety is the first step toward feeling better. Then, discover healthy ways to manage stress in the workplace and options for treating and managing an anxiety disorder so that you can achieve your career goals and enjoy your life outside of work.

Rely On A Strong Support Network

Keep in touch with trusted friends and family members to help cope with stressful work situations.

If youre struggling with an especially challenging work week, try asking parent friends if they can help out with carpooling your kids to school on certain days.

Having people you can rely on during the tough times can alleviate some of the built-up tension.

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What Causes Workplace Anxiety

Lots of things can cause anxiety in the workplace. Darcy E. Gruttadaro, JD, the director of the Center for Workplace Mental Health at the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, says anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in the United States.

âItâs not uncommon for people to feel nervous about a big presentation, meeting with clients, or working directly with senior leaders,â Gruttadaro says. âAnxiety disorders involve more extreme, often crippling, and persistent levels of fear, apprehension, and worry.â

In fact, co-workers and managers might not realize a person they work with has an anxiety disorder. Gruttadaro says some red flags that might suggest a person has an anxiety disorder include:

  • A drop in performance
  • Excessive missed days of work
  • Not appearing engaged in work
  • Physical complaints, like sweating, upset stomach, and not sleeping well
  • Poor job productivity

Debra Kissen, PhD, a clinical psychologist, says it can be helpful to take a look at how youâre feeling throughout the workday.

â in terms of how severe it is and how disabling,â Kissen says. âMaybe itâs showing up and youâre still operating pretty effectively or when youâre feeling that way, maybe youâre only 10% as effective as you would be otherwise.â

Other situations that might make you anxious include:

  • Dealing with issues at work
  • Giving presentations
  • Speaking up during meetings

Managing Common Stressful Situations At Work

How to cope up with stress at work: Tips you should use ...

If you feel stressed by a certain problem at work, you might not be alone in this.

Many of us may experience these common stressful situations in the workplace. The important thing is understanding how to manage them.

Problems with your workload

  • Ask your manager for help. Discuss your workload with your manager, if you have one. Try setting realistic targets and talk about how you can solve the issues you’re having.
  • Try to balance your time. You might be doing too much at once. If you don’t give each task your full attention, it can take longer. Try to claim your time back if you ever need to work extra hours to get something done.
  • Reward yourself for achievements. Rather than only focusing on work that needs to be done next, reward yourself for tasks youâve completed. Your reward could be taking a break to read, doing a puzzle, chatting with co-workers or spending time outside.
  • Be realistic. You don’t have to be perfect all the time. You might find that you’re being more critical of your own work than you need to be. Work within your limitations and try to be kind to yourself.

“I don’t take on too much at one time, little steps are the way. Breathing strategies, having a mindset and thinking, ‘I can do this!'”

Difficult work-life balance

Lack of support in your workplace

“My work has become a strong support system. My work colleagues have become like family and there is a mutual respect in how we treat one another.”

Also Check: What To Do During An Anxiety Attack

Physical And Mental Consequences

Prolonged activation of the stress response can affect the body in both its physical and mental health. When it slips out of balance, it can turn into chronic anxiety and, in the worst case, lead to suicidal thoughts.

Anxiety is a normal emotion that can appear from time to time when facing a problem, a test, or before having to make an important decision. When the stress level is high, anxiety disorders may appear, which are included in the group of mental illnesses. They prevent the person from leading a normal life.

Anxiety disorders can be manifested as panic attacks when you feel you are about to die social phobia, when you feel overwhelmed by everyday social situations other phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder, when the person has exaggerated worry and tension for no apparent reason.

In addition to the mental effects, the activation of the fight-or-flight mode involves chemical changes in the body, which can alter the persons metabolism. This can cause long-term effects, leading to diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure. Chronic stress can also cause other problems such as arthritis and inflammatory diseases.

The WHO has warned of the high levels of concern and unhappiness in todays world that are causing an epidemic of stress. Stress has become part of peoples daily lives, affecting productivity and causing health problems, which at first may remain silent, but then they get worse.

Common Causes And Symptoms Of Burnout At Work

Burnout is commonly associated with helping professions such as nursing. However, all organizations experience the consequences of employee burnout. In a national survey by Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace, 46 percent of human resource leaders blamed employee burnout for up to half their workforce turnover. According to this survey, heres what causes burnout.

  • Unfair compensation: For 41 percent of survey respondents
  • Unreasonable workload: For 32 percent of survey respondents
  • Too much overtime: For 32 percent of respondents

Other common causes of burnout, according to the Mayo Clinic, include the following.

If someone struggling with burnout fails to address and manage it, symptoms can have an impact on life inside and outside the workplace. Here are some of the symptoms of burnout.

  • Exhaustion: A burned-out worker might feel constantly drained, unable to cope with stress and in a bad mood.
  • Cynicism: Burnout can cause workers to isolate themselves from other workers or work-related activities. They may feel stressed and frustrated about anything work-related and wish to avoid all activities and people that remind them of work.
  • Reduced performance: Employees experiencing burnout may find it hard to focus on their work.

Sufferers of burnout might also experience insomnia or turn to substance abuse to relieve symptoms.

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How Employees Can Deal With Stress At Work

Some symptoms that will tell if you are going through anxiety at workplace are physical and include pains, head and stomach aches, fatigue, eating and sleeping disorders. Other signs are cognitive and include for example, a difficulty to concentrate or make decisions, think or remember things. Finally, you may suffer from emotional symptoms such as feeling sad, tense or angry.

If you have detected some of the mentioned signs you may be suffering from work stress. Luckily, there are techniques and actions you can take to reduce it. The American Psychological Association proposes some:

Track your stressors: Keep a diary where you can identify what situations causing you stress, what you feel and how you react to them. This can help you find patterns in the causes and your reactions.

Develop healthy responses: Try to make healthy choices when you feel the tension grows. Some options are physical activity, time to hobbies, reading, going to concerts or playing with your family. Achieving good sleep quality also helps manage stress try to limit caffeine and minimize stimulating activities at night.

Establish boundaries: Set schedules to carry out work tasks at home, such as limiting time for emails or moments to answer the phone.

Time to disconnect: To avoid burnout, it is important that you take rest and relaxation times to return to your pre-stress functioning levels.

Relax: Apply relaxation techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing or mindfulness.

Accept The Things You Can’t Change

How to Manage Work Pressure and Reduce Job Stress

Changing a difficult situation isn’t always possible. Try to concentrate on the things you do have control over.

“If your company is going under and is making redundancies, for example, there’s nothing you can do about it,” says Professor Cooper.

“In a situation like that, you need to focus on the things that you can control, such as looking for a new job.”

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Simple Ways To Relieve Stress And Anxiety

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Stress and anxiety are common experiences for most people. In fact, 70% of adults in the United States say they feel stress or anxiety daily.

Here are 16 simple ways to relieve stress and anxiety.

Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress.

It might seem contradictory, but putting physical stress on your body through exercise can relieve mental stress.

The benefits are strongest when you exercise regularly. People who exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety than those who dont exercise .

There are a few reasons behind this:

  • Stress hormones: Exercise lowers your bodys stress hormones such as cortisol in the long run. It also helps release endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers.
  • Sleep: Exercise can also improve your sleep quality, which can be negatively affected by stress and anxiety.
  • Confidence: When you exercise regularly, you may feel more competent and confident in your body, which in turn promotes mental wellbeing.
  • Try to find an exercise routine or activity you enjoy, such as walking, dancing, rock climbing or yoga.

Activities such as walking or jogging that involve repetitive movements of large muscle groups can be particularly stress relieving.

Effects Of Work Anxiety

If you are living with work anxiety, it has probably taken a toll on multiple aspects of your life. Below are some of the most common effects of work anxiety, which can occur both within and outside the workplace:

  • Experiencing reduced job performance and quality of work
  • Seeing effects on relationships with coworkers and superiors
  • Noticing effects on personal life
  • Feeling effects on your relationship with your romantic partner
  • Developing problems with concentration, fatigue, irritability, reduced productivity
  • Turning down opportunities due to phobias
  • Having reduced job satisfaction
  • Noticing reduced confidence in your skills
  • Feeling like what you do doesn’t make a difference
  • Experiencing reduced goal setting and achievement
  • Taking fewer risks and more likely to plateau in your career
  • Feeling isolated
  • Developing clinical levels of anxiety
  • Seeing effects on the organization if you are an executive
  • Having reduced social skills and ability to function within a team
  • Planning less effectively
  • Avoiding innovation

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Write Down Your Stressors

Identifying and recording stressful situations can help you understand whats bothering you. Some of these can be subtle sources of tension, such as an uncomfortable workspace or a long commute.

Keep a journal for 1 week to track your stress triggers and your reactions to them. Make sure to include the people, places, and events that gave you a physical, mental, or emotional response.

As you write, ask yourself:

  • How did this make me feel?
  • What was my reaction?
  • What are some ways of resolving it?

Disclosing An Anxiety Disorder Diagnosis To Your Employer

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While at work, people should take care to not over-disclose personal information. They can inform their employer because they need accommodations or want to provide education about their illness. However, think about boundaries and how much information is too much.

You may want to start by discussing your diagnosis or special needs with your employers HR representative. He or she may be able to direct to you existing programs or workplace accommodations that will help. Many employers have employee assistance programs as part of their benefits package. Employee assistance programs often offer referrals to mental health professionals and sometimes cover the costs of several visits. They also may offer a mental health or counseling hotline.

If your company does not have an HR department, or if you feel you need to take it further, consider talking to your supervisor. Be as specific as you can in describing the accommodations you are requesting, like an adjusted schedule or quieter space to work.

People with anxiety disorders have laws protecting their rights in areas like work and education. The laws that give people equal opportunities to those who dont have a disability are stated in the Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA.

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Boundaries Are Meant To Be Healthy And Positive Not Negative Or Spiteful

Its important to install your boundaries from day one on the job. However, you can assess them at any time when it feels necessary to bring them up. If you fear you will receive punishment for randomly bringing up boundaries, its a sign that your workplace may be toxic. Its important to remember that you deserve to feel comfortable at work!

Maybe you are unsure what your boundaries truly are aside from work availability. Your personal boundaries may stem from your life values for your limits, your assets, and other aspects of life that you need to consider.

Sometimes, boundaries can be as simple as delegating work to someone else by saying no. This can look like someone asking you to cover a shift, for example. Saying no is not easy, but with practice, it will be less stressful to decline work requests.

Take some time with yourself to understand what boundaries you want to implement at work. Consider all factors of your life, including your downtime, social life, relationships, and more. Communicate clearly up front about boundaries, such as, I cannot work Monday mornings as I have family commitments.

Click here to read about what to do when you feel overwhelmed.

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