Managing Stress in the Workplace
Dealing with stress in a healthy way starts with taking care of our bodies and minds, both at home and in the office.
Stress comes in many different forms, and people thoroughly enjoy using the phrase, “I am stressed out.” But what does “stressed out” mean? Stress is the body’s way of responding to certain types of situations. With that said, stress can be a normal and natural reaction, and the stressor is viewed as the problem. While this may be true, how we manage our stress is important as well.
Many times, people respond to stress in ways that may not be healthy. Most jobs involve some type of stress. Some jobs create physical stress, some create emotional stress, and some create both. What people do with the stress that’s present is ultimately the most important factor.
Emotional and Physical Connections
It can be said the connection between emotional stress and physical stress is simple: one equals the other. This writer is a firm believer in this idea, knowing there is no simple solution. The stressors found on the job can vary and are not always able to be addressed in a timely manner. When job-related stressors cannot be dealt with efficiently, they can grow into much bigger problems. Any job can have some type of physical stress, whether it’s sitting behind a desk all day or working on a road crew eight hours a day. Obviously, the latter will create more physical stress, but the point is that not taking care of ourselves physically can lead to problems emotionally. This can also work in reverse, meaning emotional stress can lead to physical symptoms.
The problem is that, generally speaking, stress does not occur at just a single place, like in the office. The stressors a person experiences can come from a variety of sources and they sort of latch on, like unwanted barnacles. Those who work full-time spend a great deal of time in one place: their workspace. These mounted stressors tend to affect us most when we are in one spot for an extended period of time. This gives way to the opportunity to overthink our stressors and thus create large amounts of stress. It may be hard for someone doing his or her job to find the time to deal with those stressors. In addition, the job itself may be a stressor, and the worker may take that stress home at the end of the day. Many people use the phrase “Don’t take your work home with you” or “Leave your job at the door.” While good advice, it’s not always feasible.
Addressing Stress Head-On
In a world in which stress can come at us from many different directions, we need to make it a priority to deal with our stress and not suppress it. Thoughts like “I will deal with this stress later” should be mindfully noticed and not put off.
It is possible to manage a life filled with stress without letting the stress take over. Going back to the idea that physical stress equals emotional stress and vice versa, individuals need to focus on taking care of the physical stress first. If a person is feeling tired, achy, tense or about ready to collapse from any type of stress, it is imperative to address it. Simply getting up from a desk and taking a five-minute walk around the building can help alleviate some of the physical stress a person is feeling. Exercising and eating right are great ways to reduce stress. Being unafraid to ask for help is also important. Many times, people feel they can manage all of the stress they are experiencing on their own. This is not to say a person should be dependent on another to deal with stress, but rather that a helping hand can help ease the stress.
Many times, employers offer employee assistance programs, in which a person can take advantage of free counseling services, often between three and six sessions. Beyond those sessions, if a person wants to use personal insurance to continue on, it is recommended. Seeing a professional counselor can help manage the emotional stress—which can be much more difficult than managing physical stress—as he or she can offer strategies and techniques to help reduce the stress a person is feeling.
The next time you are feeling stressed and feel it will just go away over time, please see it as a warning sign to take time to work on it. Over time, unmanaged stress can lead to bigger issues, such as complicated physical or mental health issues. Exercise, relaxation techniques and finding a listening ear are quick ways to help reduce the stress of everyday life. iBi