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Rachel Illingworth

From a very young age, children are taught that to be successful, we must work for it. We should prioritize work over everything else: parenting, hobbies, and even our own well-being. But the elephant in the room is the massive stress, and the resulting risks, that work causes.

Work stress is a recognized global problem. In fact, the World Health Organization called workplace stress the “health epidemic of the 21st century.” And it is truly an epidemic. In fact, three-fourths of today’s workers think they have more job stress than a generation ago.

Why so stressed?

The reasons for stress at work vary — like required overtime because the office is understaffed, being underpaid and overworked, lack of control, or even the possibility of losing a job. Little obstacles that pop up continuously every day can add up. And continuous dissatisfaction at work can lead to life-altering stress.  

The resulting symptoms of stress at work lead to financial, health, and family issues. Here are some of signs of job stress:

  • feeling apathetic
  • irritable
  • stomach issues
  • sleeping problems
  • fatigue
  • muscle tension
  • headaches
  • loss of sexual appetite
  • social withdrawals
  • trouble concentrating.
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • using drugs/alcohol

Tips to curb the crunch

If the symptoms of work stress aren’t addressed, employees become dissatisfied and unproductive. Self-care is an important next step. We’ve put together some simple tips for when there is a little (or a lot) of stress at work:

Breathe in … breathe out. Just a few short minutes of meditation every day can produce extraordinary benefits. Focusing calmly for 10 minutes a day can lower your blood pressure, reduce stress, and boost overall health.

Eat right, sleep well. Eating well, drinking plenty of water, staying away from processed foods, and getting a little exercise every day can lead to plenty of benefits, not the least of which is better sleep. Good sleep and a healthy diet go a long way to fighting work stress.

Identify triggers. Whenever symptoms appear, make a note of it in a journal. After a few days of note-keeping, it will become apparent what, or even who, is triggering that nasty job stress. Pinpointing the reasons behind work stress can go a long way to fighting it — or avoiding it in the first place.

Take a break. Stimulated muscles produce endorphins, which can give the body a pleasing, satisfied feeling. Whenever it feels too hectic at work, jump up and head outside or to the gym. Just getting up and walking around can settle anxiety.

Don’t be selfless. In other words, don’t be overburdened with tasks that aren’t required. There’s nothing wrong with helping a co-worker out, but be observant. First, determine how that extra work might affect your current stress levels. When your work is affected, it’s time to say no.

Actively listen. It might be difficult to pay special attention to a coworker when everything is bland and uninteresting. But when they ask a question, tell a corny joke, or want to tell a story about last Saturday afternoon, stop and listen. Being in the moment and mindful of your current surroundings can make a big difference in your mental health and your perception of the world around you.

Get support. Talk to a trustworthy coworker, manager, or even a friend outside of work about job stress. Voicing concerns and talking through issues has proven to relieve stress.

Addressing job stress

Companies are carrying much of the burden of work stress. It’s estimated that in the U.S. alone, companies are losing $300 billion annually because of employee absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity, and accidents — all of these side effects are attributed to work stress.

As a result of misguided efforts to keep employees engaged, many companies provide small perks, like a free massage or a wider assortment of snacks in the company kitchen. However, these perks do nothing to address the problems causing job stress. Employers would do well to understand that satisfied employees are more productive, contributing to the company’s success.

Employers should focus more on the Worker Experience (WX), by providing consumer-grade technology in the form of an office social platform (like Salesforce Chatter), routine employee check-ins (like satisfaction surveys), or work flexibility (like remote work).

Healthy WX addresses stress

Learn how a healthy Worker Experience relieves workplace stress, at our 2017 Appirio Worker Experience Tour. Hear from industry experts and top business leaders, see current WX technology demos, and learn about the true ROI of investing in WX transformation, straight from the analysts at Forrester Research. Register now!

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