Stress is part of everyday life. In a way, stress can even be a good thing. Acute stress sharpens your senses, makes you more alert and can improve your productivity in the short term.
However, too much long-term stress can affect your body and mind, potentially leading to debilitating symptoms. Prolonged stress can cause muscle tension, which can eventually lead to body aches and even atrophy. Chronic stress also weakens the immune system and reduces the efficiency of the respiratory organs. Your mental health can also deteriorate when you are exposed to too much stress, as your nervous system becomes roasted from spending too much time worrying.
Unfortunately, jobs are a common cause of stress. Deadlines, office politics, conflict, and inappropriate working conditions are common stressors for people working in high-pressure environments.
Luckily it doesn’t have to be that way. You can learn to identify your workplace stressors and manage the symptoms through careful planning and prevention techniques.
Recognizing stressors and symptoms in the workplace
Table of contents
- 1 Recognizing stressors and symptoms in the workplace
- 2 Dealing with work stress
- 3 Conclusion
Before you start trying any remedy, it pays to find out the exact cause of your stress. Take stock of your symptoms and learn to identify the exact point at which your increased stress at work is manifesting itself.
Digestive problems are common among people who suffer from chronic stress at work. That’s because your mind and gut are connected through the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the longest in your body and is responsible for managing stress.
When your vagus nerve is overstimulated by stress and anxiety, your gut health can suffer. Indigestion, cramps, and diarrhea are all common signs of chronic stress and can set off a cycle of anxiety, poor digestion, and further stress.
It’s also worth noting that stress affects the microorganisms and bacteria that live in your gut. Stress creates a hostile environment for the intestinal flora, leading to digestive problems and an increased risk of gastrointestinal problems.
Substance abuse is not always as obvious or as stereotyped as it is portrayed in the media. It can come in many different forms. In reality, the link between stress and substance abuse makes addiction alarmingly common.
Approximately 21.2 million Americans are living with a substance use disorder. There are many behavioral and psychological reasons you may be at increased risk of developing an addiction. These reasons include increased, long-term stress that you try to temporarily control with substances.
Unfortunately, substance abuse cannot alleviate long-term stress. Instead, addiction to alcohol and other drugs simply deepens the stress cycle and makes it harder for you to overcome your stressors. It may be worth reconsidering your relationship with alcohol if you find yourself turning to drinks after a hard day’s work, as you may be using alcohol to mask chronic stress.
Do you feel that your values align with those of your employer – or do you regularly bury thoughts about ethics and personal values? If you turn a blind eye to your corporate culture, your workplace may be the source of your stress.
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You shouldn’t feel bad about cultural misalignments at work. Many things affect workplace culture, such as the age of your co-workers, geographic characteristics, and social equity at work. If you disagree with one or more of these cultural values, you may feel stressed or out of place.
Work-related depression is among the top three most common workplace problems in the United States. Unfortunately, you are even more likely to be affected if you work remotely. Remote work can blur the lines between work and the rest of your life, leaving you feeling stressed even when you’re relaxing on your couch.
Recognizing depression can be a little harder than you first think. Symptoms such as fatigue, complacency, and constant mistakes can be a sign that you are suffering from depression and are losing your standards. Unfortunately, falling in standards can lead to deeper depression, as poor job performance can affect your self-esteem. This vicious cycle is a major cause of work anxiety because you feel like you can’t keep up.
Dealing with work stress
Recognizing the source of your work stress is an important step in avoiding burnout, taking better care of yourself, and living a healthier, happier life. However, just knowing the source of your stress is not enough – you need to take steps to better manage your stress at work.
Start with self-efficacy
Building self-efficacy is an important first step in learning to manage and overcome work-related stress. It’s hard to make positive changes in your work life if you don’t believe in yourself or value your contributions.
You can start improving your self-efficacy by practicing positive self-talk. Repeating reality-based, positive reinforcement can help you see yourself in a more positive light and will likely trigger a mindset shift that will help you feel up to the challenge of overcoming workplace stressors.
If you’re struggling with self-efficacy, it may be worth seeing a therapist. The stigma surrounding therapy is finally starting to wear off, and a good therapist can help you change your mindset to overcome negative self-talk.
stress isolated. When you’re under stress, it’s easy to feel like you’re the only person suffering and that other people don’t understand the problems you’re facing. In reality, everyone has experienced periods of chronic stress in their lives, and good managers are likely trained to help you reduce your stress levels at work.
However, talking about stress can cause even greater stress. If this is the case for you, it pays to create a short bulleted list of things you want to say before approaching your boss for a meeting. A little preparation is enough to ensure you present yourself well and calm your nerves.
Promotion of psychological security
You may not know it, but your behavior resonates with those around you. If you foster a safe psychological space among your colleagues, they will likely retaliate and help you calm down during stressful times.
You can promote psychological safety at work by encouraging curiosity and dialogue with your colleagues. This leads to a greater sense of trust between your colleagues, and just talking about stressors can lead to solutions or a change of perspective. In the long run, psychological safety can create an emotionally secure network of employees that has your back during stressful times.
Millions of employees ignore the signs of stress until they burn out and develop physical health problems. You can prevent and manage chronic stress at work by learning to recognize it before it affects your well-being. This may require the help of a therapist, but learning how to manage stress is an important step toward living a happier, more fulfilling life.