Feeling a little frazzled at work? You’ve got company. Americans are dealing with increasing levels of stress in the workplace at the cost of their health. Some of it makes sense; after all, we’ve got a reputation for being workaholics. Of all those offered vacation days each year, only around half report taking any. Many employees also work weekends and overtime on a regular basis, leaving little time for decompression.
A 2014 study spearheaded by NPR revealed over half of American employees suffer from occupational stress in a given year. Of those, 1 in 5 reported suffering a great deal of stress. Occupational stress follows you home. Office anxiety can affect the body and mind at all hours.
The Top Causes of Occupational Stress
The study highlights a number of stressors common in the workplace. While these represent those occurring most, there are a large number of potential stressors to elude. The most common causes of occupational stress listed in the study are:
- Occupational effects on personal health
- Safety hazards in the workplace
- Insufficient wages/Excessive Workload
- Unmet benefits demands
The list goes on but it’s clear overwork and under-appreciation rank high. Excessive stress can manifest physically through insomnia, high blood pressure, and a reduced capability to fight illness. High-stress levels are linked to anxiety levels and fluctuations in weight, leading to further complications. Before succumbing to occupational stress, take steps to manage workplace stress.
Managing Occupational Stress
Many management techniques are available to help reduce and eliminate stress. The right combination will depend on the individual. For some, there may be multiple stressors to manage. Tips for managing occupational stress include:
1. Find the source. Stress will be easier to manage once the stressors have been established. Personal methods may vary but experts recommend recording stressors over several weeks. What happened, your reaction, who was there and how you responded will all help in creating a record.
2. Choose healthy methods for coping. There are many ways to relieve stress and remain healthy. Exercise, reading, yoga, and meditation are just a sample of activities to get your mind off work.
3. Create boundary lines. Today, the lines between work and home are getting blurry. If work intrudes on your personal time, set times to ignore devices and decompress.
4. Remember personal time. While setting boundaries, remember to leave time for yourself. Half of the American workforce is leaving vacation time on the table. Take a vacation and relax a little.
5. Speak to a manager. If the stress continues to be an issue, speak to a manager. Good supervisors want to know if their team has an issue. Sharing concerns about workplace stress can lead to improvements.
6. Find a support structure. Some companies have employee assistance programs for supporting staff. For others, community and family may be the right solution. Overwhelmed? Speak to your physician or contact a psychologist.
Fight back. Learn how to spot, manage, and eliminate workplace stress to support living a happy and healthy life.