Work stress affects both your mental and physical health. Here’s a guide to the physical manifestations of work stress and how to deal with them.
We all know what work stress is. The nature of work is changing across the globe, leading to increased work-related stress. In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, everybody needs to know how to manage stress at work in order to lead balanced and healthy lives.
Work-related stress can occur because of various events where the demand for work exceeds a person’s ability to cope. Long working hours, travel time, constraint deadlines and ever-increasing demands can affect you physically as well as psychologically. Skills, experience and age are the major factors that can all affect an employee’s ability to cope with stress. It can leave an employee concerned, exhausted and overwhelmed.
Work stress doesn’t just affect the well-being and health of employees, it impacts overall workplace productivity. When stress exceeds your ability to cope, it ceases to be beneficial and begins to harm your mind and body both.
Causes of work stress
Many factors play a key role in work-related stress either in the office or home environment. Some common causes of workplace stress are as follows:
· Unfair compensation: actual or perceived
· High workload
· Overtime due to staff reduction
· Low growth opportunities
· Monotonous nature of work
· A non-challenging work profile
· Poor work environment and culture
What are the most common symptoms of stress?
It is essential for us to keep an eye out for the common symptoms of stress and how they affect your body, thoughts, feelings and behaviours. The early physical manifestations of stress may go unseen. But recognising some typical stress symptoms might help you manage stress at work. If the common symptoms of stress are left untreated for the long term, it may lead to chronic health conditions.
The physical manifestation of stress are as follows:
· Muscle pain and tension
· Chest pain and increased palpitation
· Fatigue and low energy
· Stomach upset including nausea, diarrhoea or constipation
· Disturbed sleep patterns such as insomnia and sleeplessness
· Change in sexual desire or ability
· Dry mouth and difficulty in swallowing food
· Anxiety characterised by nervousness, cold or sweaty hands and feet, grinding teeth or squeezed jaw
· Low immunity resulting in frequent infections
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How to manage stress at work
How to deal with stress at work is important. Various coping strategies need to be inculcated. Understanding the most common symptoms of stress is the first step toward dealing with stress at work.
Some tips on how to deal with stress at work are as follows:
Tip 1: Reach out to someone you trust
Sharing your problem with a confidante is one of the best practices to manage stress at work. The mere act of expressing and talking it out can help you to gain support and sympathy. Discussing or speaking about the parameter that is stressing to someone close. It is an effective way to deal with stress at work and reclaim your sense of calm. All you need is another person to be a good listener who eases the venting out process.
You can also reach out to your co-worker for support and understanding of ways to deal with stress and workload.
Tip 2: Trace the stressors
Maintain a journal to identify the situations that are stressful and how you respond to them. Pen down all the emotional, mental and physical thoughts and feelings you have experienced along with how you react. This practice of journaling will help you analyse the stressors and understand your reaction pattern to the scenario.
Tip 3: Improve your health with nutrition and exercise
Because of excessive workload and stringent timelines, one’s activity and food habits are often neglected. Negligence of the body’s wellbeing is yet another example of the physical manifestation of stress.
A slight change in your day-to-day routine can recharge the energy and provide good results. Practising good health, nutrition, and exercise habits aid in improving your determination, and you become stronger and more resilient to stress. It also improves your mood, state and energy level and rejuvenates your mind.
To deal better with the physical manifestation of stress, you can also practice meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or tai chi, or take a relaxing massage. These will help you reduce aches and pain, headaches, palpitations, and low energy moods. It will also improve concentration and help you maintain a calm mind.
- Make time for regular exercise
Performing aerobic exercise will lift your mood, energy and focus and relax your mind and body. Walking, running, jogging and dancing will calm your brain and its activity. You should perform such activities for at least 30 minutes for maximum stress relief.
If it is difficult to include it on days with high workload, take a quick break from the stressful work. Go for a short walk to the nearest park or just take a stroll around your office building to refresh your mind. Something’s better than nothing!
- Maintain healthy eating habits
Stressed people either tend to overeat or undereat during a stressful condition. Make smart food choices because food has a profound impact on your physical and mental health.
Consume healthy food that is rich in proteins and omega-3 rich food. Reduce consuming food rich in carbohydrates and fats. Avoid drinking alcohol to cope with stress as it may lead to dependence. People deal with stress at work by smoking, but it acts by increasing their anxiety level rather than lowering it. These habits adversely harm your health.
Balanced, small but frequent meals are essential to maintain energy and focus on work. Overeating can make you feel lethargic and tired, while under-eating can make you feel irritated, anxious, low energy and fatigued.
Tip 4: Sleep cycle
Working late at night, early in the morning or on rotating shifts can alter your sleep quality, which can damage your productivity and performance, making you more susceptible to stress. Hence focus on getting enough sleep at night. Also, avoid consuming heavy food, caffeinated drinks, alcohol or tobacco close to bedtime, as these can interfere with your sleep quality.
Tip 5: Get organised
Sometimes stress can be the outcome of inadequate planning. So prioritise your work and start your day early to get a head start. Manage your time well to avoid distractions. And give yourself small incentives for getting tasks done. Also, once you’re done with the planned tasks for the day, make sure to switch off and rest until the next day.
The above mentioned are a few of the ways to deal with stress at work. However, you can also reach out to the doctor or therapist and address all the signs and symptoms you are currently experiencing. They will help with methods to manage stress at work.