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Stressed Out at Work? For Good Reasons.

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Stress at work is the number one stress reported. Stress can be a good thing in the realm that it can be an encourager to succeed, but chronic stress is detrimental. Stress at work can lead to many other problems.

According to a 2004 lluminari landmark Study, they found that those who have work related stress are twice as likely to have;

  • Heart problems
  • Anxiety & depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Certain cancers
  • Conflict injuries
  • Infectious diseases
  • Back pain

Many people look for relief through means of gambling, smoking, over-eating, & other things that can be damaging to your life and health.

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According to the APA, the top stressors for people in the workplace, in order of importance, are:

  1. ƒ Low salaries (43 percent)
  2.  Heavy workloads (43 percent)
  3. Lack of opportunity for growth and advancement (43 percent) ƒ
  4. Unrealistic job expectations (40 percent)
  5. Job security (34 percent)

Other complaints of stress inducers according to Michael Baime, M.D., Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania are: 

  1. Long hours, doing more with less
  2. Work/life balance (work interferes with ability to fulfill home & family responsibilities/ work interferes with personal time)
  3. Technologies that expand availability (constant emails & text that come right to your phone; and being expected to answer immediately)
  4. Manager’s inability to recognize stress
  5.  Manager’s inability to find solutions for stress
  6. Extra time, problems related to securitySafety fears. According to the Health Advocate, stressed employees incur twice the healthcare cost as other employees. Which “costs businesses an estimated $200 to $300 billion a year in lost productivity.”

So what can we do to reduce the amount of stress in the workplace?

Unfortunately our employer has most of the control when it comes to what can and cannot be done within the office, but by adding a few minor adjustments to your personal space can prove to be a huge payoff.

 1. Improving environmental stressors

  • Add a fan: Increasing airflow within your area can calm stress by cooling you down. Fans also can mask the sound around you. Masking noise [with noise masking machines] increases productivity within an office by 48%
  • Reconfigure your personal desk/ space: get better organized, shift things around so you have a more open space to work. Clutter and chaos causes stress and anxiety.
  • Add a live plant: A study done by Andrea Dravigne on the effects of live plants within the workspace found;

    “that individuals who worked in offices with plants and windows reported that they felt better about their job and the work they performed. This study also provided evidence that those employees who worked in offices that had plants or windows reported higher overall quality-of-life scores.”

  • Have an office pet: This one may not fly with the boss, but maybe you can get away with a desk fish such as a betta in a vase with bamboo. Having pets are said to lower blood pressure and stress. Especially if you are at a desk a betta fish can be very soothing.
  • Simulate nature: Health Advocate states,

     ” interestingly, even employees who have indirect contact with nature suffer from less stress and illness and have increased well-being as well as clearer thinking.”

    You could put a calming scenic screen saver on your computer or have a calendar hanging up within your personal space that depicts a beautiful landscape.

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2. Take a break

  • During your break take a walk: Health Advocate found that if you:

    “Build in exercise [into your] breaks. Research has found that light to moderate exercise such as a walking or yoga can lower the cortisol levels that can lead to stress. A short walk each day may refresh employees during the work day, reducing stress and increasing productivity.”

  • Quiet Break: Sitting in a quiet room to think to yourself can get you refreshed to continue throughout your day
  • Social Break: Take advantage of opportunities for social interaction with your co-workers

3. Discuss programs with your employer

  • Encourage & accept (half the battle is acknowledging you need the extra help) employer provided support systems that offer counseling or support groups
  • Start conversations with employers about such programs if your organization does not have them already in place. It may be a difficult conversation but a necessary one.  By approaching the topic in a semi vague fashion, you can get the message across that the office is in need of stress programs and everyone can benefit. This will help not singling yourself out.

    Here is a great office program that you can mention:

     Mindfulness training:

        CDs/info here

Finding the right balance at work can be tricky. It is important to try different strategies to reduce work related stress & anxiety since it will overlap into every aspect of your life. Use these tips, and if you have any tips to share that have improved your work experience, let me know!

-Tessa

 

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