The workplace is not an easy place to be these days. With the economy still in a state of flux, redundancies always on the horizon, and competitiveness between colleagues at record highs, it’s easy to get so caught up in keeping your job that you fail to notice how stressed it is making you. Here are some of the most obvious signs that you may be suffering from stress in the workplace, and how to deal with them.
Do You Feel Physically Ill? Although you may not realise it, headaches, nausea, and aches and pains can all be signs of excess stress in your life. For example, in some people, stress can cause them to grind their teeth and this can trigger headaches. If you feel physically ill over a prolonged period of time, it may be stress that is causing your symptoms, rather than a passing bug or bout of flu.
Is Your Sleep Suffering? For many, an overly stressed work life will lead to an inability to switch off. If you find yourself lying in bed at night, your mind whirring until the early hours, then you may be suffering from work related stress. Alternatively, if you are getting a good night’s sleep every night but still feel constantly tired, this could be down to stress affecting the quality of your sleep.
Has Your Behaviour Changed? Even the kindest, most docile of people can find themselves turning into something of a monster under the influence of workplace stress. If you can’t remember the last time you laughed at a joke at work, find yourself snapping at the slightest annoyance, are regularly falling out with colleagues, or have been labeled the office grump, then the stress of your job could be negatively affecting your personality.
Has Your Work Suffered? Stress in the workplace can lead to a drop in the standard of you work, as well as an inability to get motivated, to meet deadlines, and a general sense of indecisiveness and poor judgment. If you have consistently been a high achiever and suddenly find yourself in the opposite position, look first at stress as the cause, rather than any decline in intellect or ability.
If, having read the above list, you identify with some or all of it, what do you do next?
Take Responsibility For Your Body. Although you may be so busy that there aren’t even enough hours in the day to grab lunch, let alone take a screen break every hour, neglecting yourself physically will add to the feeling of an inability to cope, whilst taking away the physical resources you need to get through a busy day.
Make sure you give your body fuel – eat healthy food at regular intervals – and take five minutes whenever you can to try and relax physically. Being physically calm will allow you to start making positive decisions and control angry outbursts. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and give yourself time to wind down completely before going to bed. Exercise – going to the gym might seem like madness when you’re getting up at 6am to do it, but exercise has been proven to help cut stress levels and will build stamina. Even a short walk at lunchtime will help calm you down and exposure to sunlight will give you that required daily dose of Vitamin D.
Communicate. Rather than wait until something has built up inside your head to the point where all you can do is explode in anger, express yourself calmly when the issue arises. If your colleague is disturbing you by making all his calls on speakerphone, it will be more constructive to ask him pick up his handset than to wait until it has made you so angry that you shout at him.
Pre-empt Yourself. Take a good look at the way you react to situations and learn how to stop yourself getting to the end of your tether, before it happens. If travelling during rush hour means you arrive at work in a state of high tension, ask your boss about arriving an hour earlier and leaving an hour earlier. Or simply get an earlier train in the morning or later train in the evening and use the time to catch up on your to do list, go to a gym near your office, or just sit quietly with a coffee and a book.
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