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Overcoming work-related stress for better health Posted on July 2, 2020

Workplace stress can affect anybody. It can even go beyond the workplace and affect a person’s family life. It doesn’t take much for pressure to mount, and without intervention it can lead to serious health issues.

Causes of work-related stress

I talk about this topic in my book, MindShift to a Better Place. Some of the most common causes of work-related stress are working long hours, a consistently heavy workload, no flexibility or bullying within the workplace. An unhealthy workplace, with little natural light or poor air filtration, can also cause physical stress. All of these causes can be made worse if you don’t have a supportive workplace.

Dr Lars Madsen, clinical advisor to The MindShift Foundation, tells us that the impact that work has on overall wellbeing and self-worth is significant. Having realistic expectations of yourself will help avoid issues like stress and burnout. Learning how to recognise the signs of work-related stress is also important.

Signs of work-related stress

Work-related stress can reveal itself through signs, such as:

  • · Easy to anger or frustrated by tasks or people
  • · Chest pains or feelings of anxiety
  • · Procrastination
  • · Finding it difficult to concentrate
  • · Overly emotional or teary
  • · Having trouble making decisions
  • · Feeling trapped
  • · Having trouble turning off
  • · Isolating yourself at work or from family and friends.

 

How to deal with stress at work

Learning how to recognise what causes work-related stress and the symptoms of distress is important. Some ways to help manage stress include:

  • · Talking to somebody you trust about your problems at work
  • · Trying to reduce your workload
  • · Ask someone for help with time management
  • · Trying relaxation techniques, such as meditation or engaging in mindful behaviour
  • · Making time for things you enjoy
  • · Spending time with your family and friends
  • · Talking to your doctor or healthcare professional for help
  • · Talking to your employer to find a solution together.

 

It might be hard to talk to your employer, but if you need to reduce your workload or negotiate flexibility in your hours then they must be consulted. Workplaces are generally understanding of the impact of stress and how it can potentially lead to serious conditions like anxiety or depression. Employers are obligated to look after your health while you are under their care. State and federal organisations can protect your legal welfare should there be an issue with your employer, while community and charitable organisations can assist with stress relief or other mental health concerns. See some of our suggested links here.

Being proactive against work-related stress

Work-related stress should be avoidable in most jobs. There are things you can do to maintain a healthy mindset while you’re on the job, such as:

  • · Speaking up if you’re unhappy or overwhelmed
  • · Trying not to be too critical of yourself and avoid perfectionism
  • · Trusting yourself and your decision making
  • · Finding a way to say no if your workload is too heavy
  • · Being aware of your own needs.

 

It’s natural to want to exceed expectations in any job role, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of your mental and physical health. Figure out what your limits are and then play to your strengths. Work-related stress happens when we let ourselves get overwhelmed.

Elizabeth Venzin is the Founder and CEO of the Australian not-for-profit organisation The MindShift Foundation. She is an advocate for preventative mental health and the author of MindShift to a Better Place.

Resources about preventative mental health can be found at the MindShift website www.mindshift.org.au.

Copyright © The MindShift Foundation