Do You Even Know Why You're Stressed at Work?


Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Looking after employees' mental health is a big issue for companies, and can have a considerable impact on productivity and morale.

Article 4 Minutes
Do You Even Know Why You're Stressed at Work?

Stress is often regarded as something that just comes as part of the deal when you are working. More recently, experts have been aware of the link between stress and mental health in the workplace.

Although professionals can definitely be healthy whilst experiencing stress, it's important to recognize when this feeling is escalating and when it may become detrimental to a person's health.

Identifying why you're experiencing stress can be a significant step towards addressing the problem, and finding a solution.

Looking at the causes

You may feel silly saying you don't know what is causing your stress, but in the workplace it's common for people to experience this. It may be that you're on edge or irritable throughout the day and then crash as soon you get home. This is a key sign that you're stressed and can often be accompanied by periods of not sleeping or eating well.

Many people will have acute stress at work, where they're able to leave their negative feelings at the office and unwind once they get home. Even this, over long periods of time, can be detrimental to your health and your personal life, so it can be valuable to have a better understanding of what's causing your stress.

Examining stress patterns

Looking at the triggers that are causing your stress can help you identify factors that are impacting your mental health. This should also help you notice any patterns and understand the situations where your stress levels can get out of control.

With work, which is one of the most common causes, there are a number of scenarios where stress can get out of hand. It's important to recognize these so any emotions don't end up impacting performance or professional relationships. Learning more about the factors that influence mood can allow you to pre-empt and prepare for situations that are normally incredibly stressful.

For example, someone debating a point with you or undermining you in a public arena is a situation that many people would find stressful. However, learning what exactly you find difficult about this scenario (do you feel belittled or inferior, or is it just that you don't like speaking in front of people?) can help you proactively manage these feelings. This will prevent them from escalating and affecting your work life.

Understanding your stress

Once you see the patterns of your stress, it may be obvious to you what is causing it and what the potential solutions are. Many professionals can experience stress if they are struggling with time management or have too much work to do. This can lead to feeling out of control, which can result in a lot of anxiety.

However, you may find that your stress is related to the key people you work with, such as your manager or colleagues. This can be a bit more complicated to resolve as it's unlikely you're going to be able to avoid them unless you leave your job. In this instance, communication is essential; bottling it up will only make things worse.

Try to understand what specific element of these interactions causes you discomfort and look at ways you may be able to address them. For instance, you may not like your manager's style of running the team. Depending on your company, you may be able to give your feedback to another line manager, but if you can't, you should try to limit your stress in these scenarios. This might involve finding other ways of communicating with them or simply telling yourself that it's not a personal attack, just their way of managing.

Look at control levels

Recognizing what you do and don't have control over can massively impact stress. When you have identified triggers and emotions, you need to look at what actions you can personally take to reduce the amount of stress you experience.

Becoming more resilient to stress is something that can be achieved over a period of time. Everybody experiences stressful situations at certain times, but being able to recognise the factors that impact your mood and taking action to reduce your stress can make a big difference.

If you find that your stress is escalating, you should look into getting support to help you.

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