How Stress in the Workplace Affects Staff
What is stress and the effects that it may cause on individuals who have it?
With today's ever increasing demands put on society as a whole it is no wonder that most women at some point suffer from stress.
I myself, unfortunately, have had stress on a number of occasions throughout my life. It's not surprising with all of the juggling I and indeed a lot other women with young families have to do.
It's ok for the doctor to say go easy on yourself when there is so much to be done at any one given time isn't there?
Most women in the workplace have more responsibilities, less resources and too little control which amounts to stress.
Relationships are constantly being put under pressure with the demands of our children taking first priority over how we are feeling.
Stress as in my case can cause serious health complications such as a racing pulse, depression, anxiety, chronic back and neck pain and severe headaches, oh and of course being unable to sleep.
The latter of the list just adds to the feelings of stress big time.
Ways to overcome the feelings of stress
Working in an office environment I found it imperative that I get up and walk around and talk to my colleagues to elleviate the feelings of stress. Taking a break and telling yourself that you'll confront the situation or problem shortly can help diffuse the situation and provide you with a completely different outcome.
Talking to your boss and letting them know that you are overloaded would be the correct thing to do, as they may not have any idea that you are suffering the effects of stress and there could be an easy answer to changing the situation.
Telling yourself that you are doing as much as is possible for one person is also away of overcoming the feeling of stress.
Having children and setting aside some time for yourself to read a book, watch the TV or simply do nothing at all can overcome the feelings of stress, you could do this at times such as when the children are sleeping at school or playing.
In relationships it is best to talk through the problems that you are experiencing as a problem shared is a problem halved so they say and in my experience this is quite true.
When it comes to working full time, running a home and taking care of the children, if your finding that the jobs are not being done equally by both of you in the relationship, perhaps it's time to sit down and sort it out. This generally is still a problem that is experienced in a lot of relationships whereby the woman has more to do than that of her partner.
Exercising can and does elliviate stress in my opinion. Exercise burns off stress related chemicals and helps you to overcome those negative feelings.
More Responsibility, Less Control
Women are probably under more stress than ever before. At work we have more responsibility but less job security. We have to juggle our demands made by our bosses, our kids and our partners. Our relationships are less secure, consider the divorce rate or the amount of women that now opt out of getting into a relationship for life. We are also less likely to have extended family and lifelong friends to lean on, since people move so often.
When you add it all up, and too much responsibility, too little control and too few resources amount to too much stress. Women tend to take in the stress felt by those who are close to them, compounding the problem.
It has been shown through research that women are more sensitive to the stress of people close to them. If their husbands are under stress or their kids are under stress they too experience more stress themselves. Studies have shown that our body's physiological reaction to high levels of sustained stress increases blood pressure, an outpouring of adrenalin and other changes and it make you more susceptible to serious disorders like heart disease.
Stress can also make you feel depressed, irritable, despairing and extremely edgy and it does not help with your sleeping pattern either. Some people even experience headaches.
Make time to unwind, take it easy and unload
To calm things down there is plenty you can do to relieve stress.
Take a moment to relax. Stress is most damaging if its unrelenting. Even if you can find a few moments of relaxation per day it can help considerably. You could in your working day call it a mini break, get up stretch or talk to your co-workers for a couple of minutes. If your at home go to a quiet room and take a short break. If your stress is due to children make time for yourself to read a magazine or watch television or simply do nothing at all.
Talk it through with your boss. Your boss may have no idea that you are on overload! Or mention it to your colleagues they may have some idea of how to priotise the work load so that it reduces your stress level.
Workplace stress will result if your employer demands more from you than you are able to motivate yourself to give. For example, if the workload is too large for the staff numbers and time available. Ignoring an employees skills could cause stress if they have potential skills and experiences that are not being used and they are doing a repetitive job which is boring.
Stress in the workplace could lead to if not addressed:-
- high absenteeism
- frequent and severe accidents
- high labor turnover
- industrial relations difficulties
- prolonged abesenteeism
- apathy among the workforce
- poor quality control
Possible sourses of stress related to the environment you work in
If there is a well arranged workplace and it is comfortable to work in with all the necessary tools and equipment at hand this can eleviate stress. However, a badly-arranged, overcrowded workplace is an unnecessary source of stress which is comparatively simple to eliminate or at least minimise.
Your employers should ensure that any machinery and equipment you are using is installed to suit you the user.
Equipment may involve, for example, actions which force the body into unnatural positions over a prolonged period such as stretching over a conveyor belt or typing. This can cause muscle fatigue and cramps and can be the start of musculoskeletal problems such as Repetitive Strain Injury. If through poor design or maintenance the equipment hinders rather than helps employees to meet their deadlines, it also raises their anxiety levels. Physical discomfort and mental pressure arising from this source can cause stress.
Noise can also cause stress in the workplace and should be addressed as well as temperature and lighting all of these areas need to be properly controlled to eleviate stress for the working women and indeed all workers alike.
If job factors stress you, the less time you spend at work the better, easily said than done I know, however increased leisure time and opportunities to relax are of benefit and unlike wage increases reductions in working time cannot be eroded by inflation. But many employees are driven by the need to earn a living. Overtime and low pay often work together to cause stress. To increase pay, people find that they have to face the stress of overtime or long hours. But overtime disrups family and social life, causes fatigue, and increases accident risks when concentration and attention fail. Flexible working for the modern working woman is a method of employment which could if worked out properly work well for both women and their employers.
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© 2012 Trudy Cooper