Workplace stress and how to beat it

Yes we work longer hours and this adds stress, but did you know that stress not only affects an employee’s mental and physical state but it also has an effect on the country’s overall economy.

No matter how much you love your job or whether you are an employee or the boss, workplace stress is part of your job description. According to The American Institute of Stress, until around 1995, Japan held the record for the number of hours employees worked each week. Today’s numbers show Americans work almost a month more than their Japanese counter parts and three months more than Germans.

According to some estimates, the financial impact on our economy may be as high as $300 billion a year when accounting for diminished productivity, absence from work, employee turnover, and health-care costs associated with treating and managing the debilitating effects of workplace stress.

Nearly all of us have experienced feeling stressed or burnt out at work and are well aware of how paralyzing it can be at its worst.

The increasing demands placed on employees to do more work in less time have proved to be a major factor on the stress levels and pressure felt by employees. Survey data from employee development solutions Bridge by Instructure, a national survey of more than 1,000 office employees, sheds some light on some of the biggest stressors. For example, 78% of respondents said that working longer hours was an important factor in being promoted. Meanwhile, 53% said engaging in workplace politics played a part in advancing their careers, and 50% said that socializing outside of work figured into the mix as well.

Making these challenges even worse is the fact that many employers may not be as focused on support for employees’ mental health as they need to be. Only a third of employees reported being encouraged by their employers to use their paid time off, and a mere 11% said that they are encouraged to take mental health days. All this stress has led many to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, with 34% saying their job has increased reliance on caffeine, 9% saying they had increased their sugar intake, and 7% stating they rely on antianxiety medication.

These are some simple tips to keep in mind when dealing with stress and you need to always remember that your mental health and wellness should be a priority.

Be proactive about your career

Don’t wait for things to happen, take the initiative to talk to your manager about your professional goals and make sure you and your manager are on the same page about your future.  This will make future conversations easier and allow them to create opportunities and develop a plan to help with your career goals, which will help to limit your future stress.

Get moving

Sitting all day at your job is not a good thing for your physical or mental health, so get moving.  Make sure that you are getting up or standing often and getting exercise both at and away from work.  Regular standing, moving, and light aerobic exercise throughout the day will reduce stress. Take a walk, or better yet, have a walking meeting and get your colleagues involved!

Make use of your paid time off and sick days

Don’t hesitate to actually use your paid time off and sick days—you’ve earned that time and it’s yours to enjoy. Work absences can boost productivity and engagement once you return. Your employer will benefit from your productivity boost, and you will benefit from taking a well-deserved break.

Get your Sleep

Yes, the big game is on tonight or you want to catch up on your favorite TV shows, but missingout on getting enough sleep interferes with focus and creativity, reduces problem-solving skills, and brings down overall productivity. It may be tempting after a long day at work to try and squeeze as much leisure as you can out of the late hours of the evening, but you’ll pay a price the next day and in the long term. Good sleep habits will help you deal with workplace stress and keep you engaged throughout the day.

by Jamie Barrie