The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) define work-related stress as an emotionally and physically harmful response to an unbalanced work environment. In most instances, the demands of the job are greater than the worker’s ability to meet those demands. There are two different types of stress.
There is acute stress, which is sudden and situational (like the boss yelling at you). And there is chronic stress, which occurs over a long period of time (like constantly worrying about the boss yelling at you). While some degree of acute stress is normal, in any workplace, chronic stress may indicate a deeper problem.
If you are suffering from some of the following symptoms it may indicate that you are feeling the effects of stress. If you find that work or aspects of your work bring on or make these symptoms worse, speak to your line manager, trade union representative or your HR department. It may be that some action taken at an early stage will ease the stress and reduce or stop the symptoms.
- Negative or depressive feeling
- Disappointment with yourself
- Increased emotional reactions – more tearful or sensitive or aggressive
- Loneliness, withdrawn
- Loss of motivation commitment and confidence
- Mood swings (not behavioral)
- Confusion, indecision
- Can’t concentrate
- Poor memory
Changes from your normal behavior
- Changes in eating habits
- Increased smoking, drinking or drug taking ‘to cope’
- Mood swings affecting your behavior
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Twitchy, nervous behavior
- Changes in attendance such as arriving later or taking more time off.
Please note these are indicators of behavior of those experiencing stress. They may also be indicative of other conditions. If you are concerned about yourself please seek advice from your GP. If you are concerned about a colleague try to convince them to see their GP.
If you catch symptoms early, you have a better chance of fixing the problem so you don’t end up with more chronic and serious problems.
Here’s what to look out for:
- Job dissatisfaction
- Sleep disturbances
- Short temper
- Upset stomach
- Disturbed relationships with family and friends
You’ll need to be proactive if you want to cure your job stress.
- If overwork is your problem, take a vacation, leave work on time as often as possible, and avoid taking work home.
- If you’re worried about layoffs, all you can do is make sure you’re prepared should that happen.
- If you find that you made the wrong career choice, or your career is no longer fulfilling, it may be time for a change. Make your choices carefully.
- If you are having conflicts with your boss or co-workers, try to work them out. Although it may be difficult to resolve personality differences, you can try to figure out a way to get along better.
- If your stress is having a profound effect on your life, don’t be afraid to get professional help.
We all feel stress from time to time, but no one needs to suffer from chronic stress at work.