Stress And The Workplace

Gradle Gardner

Gradle Gardner

Stress and the workplace go together like peanut butter and jelly. It’s difficult to have one without the other. Stressors at work are a major cause of serious health-related issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.

If you work in a stressful environment, it is wise to take action before common symptoms of stress lead to long-term illness or disease. Signs and symptoms of stress may already be affecting your health, even though you are not aware.

Some early-warning physical symptoms are: fatigue, upset stomach/heartburn, sleep problems/sleep deprivation, reoccurring headaches and/or pain and/or muscle tension.

Consider an inventory of any recent mood change. Are you experiencing a lack of motivation? Is it difficult to retain focus on the task at hand? Do you get irritable frequently? Are you depressed?  Is your productivity suffering?

Look at lifestyle changes in general. Are you overeating to compensate for anxiety? Or, do you lack appetite and skip meals? Do you refuse social invitations in preference to isolation?  Have you recently started missing days at work due to illness?

After your inventory, try to determine if your symptoms are mostly work related or a combination of contributing factors such as: change in financial status, divorce, death in family and so on.

If the majority of stressors are work-related, it’s time to take action to minimize stress.

Assess your Immediate Environment

If you work in an office environment, observe your office or cubicle to determine anything that could be causing discomfort. Is the temperature too hot or too cold most of the time? If so, call your maintenance department or notify your immediate supervisor.

What about the chair you must sit in eight or nine hours each day? Is it the correct height so that both feet touch the floor? Does it support your back? Is it comfortable in general? If not, go through the appropriate channels to order an ergonomic chair. Ill-suited chairs lead to stress-induced back, neck and shoulder pain.

Take a look at your computer. Is the monitor adjusted correctly in accordance with your height and line of sight? If you’re uncertain get assistance from your supervisor or a computer savvy co-worker. After it is adjusted, get up and move around about five minutes each hour. Stretch your body to relieve tension and allow your eyes a well-deserved break.

Optimum height for your keyboard and mouse is about waist level. Otherwise, you will suffer stress-related physical symptoms such as shoulder and wrist pain. Repetitive motion is in itself stressful; your muscles tense-up and cramp. Shake your wrists or squeeze a foam ball for a few minutes. It’s wise to take pre-emptive action before carpel tunnel syndrome develops.

How about clutter? Do you have stacks and piles of “stuff”? Think about staying late one afternoon or coming in early to organize your work. It is very stressful to fumble through papers when your boss is hovering over you, demanding a report.

An in-box is invaluable for sorting work. Separate active files from inactive files. Experts agree when we have a place for items, it takes five seconds to find them and alleviates added stress in the workplace.

Relax your Expectations

Perfectionism historically was a positive attribute one stated when filling out a job application. We have now learned that high achievers cause themselves added stress. In essence, the less pressure we put on ourselves to beat deadlines, produce perfect work and multi-task, the more productive we are.

Our superiors put enough unrealistic expectation on us with tight deadlines and extra workloads. Due to downsizing there are fewer employees to produce the work. If you find yourself skipping breaks and lunch, assuming added responsibilities, taking work home and working later, try to relax your expectations.

Remain within your integrity without demanding perfectionism of yourself. If essential duties are falling in arrears, speak with your immediate supervisor.

Managing Workplace Conflicts

Most people either fear or dislike confrontation in the workplace. Harsh words, once spoken, are forever. Try to maintain a positive attitude and help co-workers when the opportunity arises.

It isn’t written that you must socialize outside the office with your co-workers. But, while in the workplace, make every effort to be congenial. Remember the person you help today may be your boss tomorrow!

When conflicts cannot be solved between employees themselves, they should request a meeting with their supervisor.

Stress And The Workplace

It’s a dual effort between employee and supervisor to manage stress in the workplace. I have been writing about workplace wellbeing for many years and to find out more useful information please visit my site at




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