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Stress at work! How to deal with it?


You are part of a team, the current duties "rain", everyone expects something from you. The phone won't stop ringing, the emails pile up one after the other or they write to you late at night.

You probably feel discomfort from the hectic work process. Stress at work is now a daily occurrence, and it's the cause of your poor mood, performance and even health.

How does our body react to work stress?

Let's imagine we get an email from the boss saying we are behind by a certain deadline. The mind and body immediately react. Our pulse speeds up, a sudden feeling of cold and panic comes over us. This is called "fight or flight." In the course of evolution, humans have protected themselves from environmental dangers through this reaction. Faster heartbeats and tensed muscles have aided escape from predators. Nowadays, fight and flight helps us mobilize to work late into the night so we can accomplish the tasks at hand.

But what happens if we face this stress every day at work? Over time, chronic work stress can lead to a psychological syndrome better known as burnout. The first signs of it are: exhaustion, negative attitude towards work, inefficiency.

Some work-related stressors are closely linked to burnout. Here are some examples: too much work, lack of independence, inadequate pay, lack of a team, disrespect and mismatch between work and personal values.

Long-term exposure to work-related stressors such as these can affect mental health. Research has linked burnout to symptoms of anxiety and depression. In some cases, this sets the stage for serious mental health problems. In fact, one study shows that younger people who regularly face heavy workloads and extreme time pressures at work are more likely to experience severe depressive disorder and general anxiety disorder.

High levels of stress at work - and outside of work - affect physical health. The frequent activation of the "fight and flight" response can disrupt the harmony in a person's body. An example is the repeated release of the stress hormone cortisol, which can weaken the immune system and increase the likelihood of developing disease.

Chronic stress at work can also affect health, interfering with sleep, a balanced diet or the desire to exercise.

Work stress is also not good for companies or organisations themselves. Burnout reduces work productivity and increases absenteeism among staff, as well as employee turnover, which in turn leads to conflicts between colleagues, causing stress to spread to more people in the collective.

How to deal with stress at work?

Dealing with negative thoughts

Chronic stress and worry cause people to develop a "filter" in which everything is automatically interpreted as a negative situation. One starts to systematically doubt one's abilities ("my boss thinks I'm not getting up") or can't overcome a lack of advancement ("I'll be ruined if I don't get promoted").

These are times when you need to take stock of what you've done and the situation you're in. If you find that you never know if what you are doing is enough, it may help to talk to your supervisor. Take time to discuss strategy and how to meet the tasks that are expected to be done. This relieves stress for both parties.

Forget "multitasking"

Jumping from one task to another may seem like a fantastic way to increase productivity, but over time you'll find that this deceptive feeling only leads to diluted focus and doesn't work well for most people. Doing math in Excel, answering emails, and talking on the phone all at the same time will lead to negative results across the board.

Organization, organization, organization

Even if you are a naturally disorganized person, scheduling tasks allows you to spread your tasks out over time, which will greatly reduce your stress at work. You'll say that it's easy in theory and that new tasks constantly mess up your schedule. Yes, that's why we keep coming back to the point where you need to initiate a conversation with your supervisor and discuss the priorities of the expected work.

By staying organized, you can also avoid the negative effects of work overload.

Resolving problems

When a problem arises, many people simply block, panic - the stress is there.

Build a strategy where you follow specific steps to resolve it:

  • Define the problem;
  • Consider options for resolving it;
  • Make an action plan;
  • Discuss with a colleague/supervisor.

Feel comfortable and at work

You may not have thought about it, but physical comfort is extremely important in controlling stress at work.

  • The chair - you practically live in it during the day (mainly applies to people who work on a computer). Make sure you have a comfortable workstation. No one wants to bring back or lower back pain from work;
  • Desk - arrange it so it feels like home;
  • Music - make a favourite music list that helps you concentrate;
  • Light - direct light into the monitor or sparkling sun behind it are not helpers. Don't strain your eyes further;

Take some time for yourself - for example for a short walk. Don't forget your lunch break.

In conclusion, stress is manageable. Identify its source and try different techniques to reduce it. It will always be around us, but the important thing is not to give in to it!

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