In today’s work environment there is more and more pressure to reach ever increasing performance targets while working excessive hours. When this pressure becomes relentless it can lead to work stress. Other factors that also contribute to work stress are:
- Lack of involvement in decisions about your work
- Lack of management support
- Lack of support of work colleagues
- Ambiguity around duties and responsibilities
- Pressure to work long hours on a regular basis
- Bullying or harassment
If these conditions persist over a long period of time they can result in you feeling exhausted and unable to cope.
Symptoms of work stress may be mild initially but increase in intensity if the stressing factors do not reduce. Symptoms can include:
|Anxiety||Reduced self esteem|
|Distancing from friends and family||Thoughts of self harm|
|Sleep Disturbance||Increased use of alcohol or drugs|
|Unable to switch off outside of work||Digestive problems|
|Lack of ability to see a positive future||Irritability|
You might start to question your ability to do the job, wondering why you are finding it difficult when others appear to be coping ok. You may begin to think that it is your fault and that you are not “good enough” for the role. You then can feel trapped in a situation which appears to be out of your control making you feel deeply unhappy.
If you are experiencing work stress there are methods available to help you overcome this difficulty.
- Make the decision to take action.
Work stress can often seem so overwhelming that you believe a solution is out of your control. Stress can lead you into a cycle of negative thoughts that can be difficult to escape from. Knowing that you have options available to you to overcome the stress is the first step towards a solution.
If work is making you ill then you should communicate this to either your boss or human resources representative. Often this can be a daunting prospect as you may fear that it will lead to an argument and many people don’t feel confident to be able to deal with confrontation. “People Skills” is an excellent book by Robert Bolton which gives practical advice as to how to assert yourself in a non confrontational way. Working on assertiveness will also improve your ability to communicate. Improving your ability to be able communicate assertively will give you the confidence to be able to voice your difficulties in the workplace. This is one of the areas that can be working on in counselling sessions.
- Confront workplace bullying.
Up to 1 in 12 people in Irish workplaces are bullied. Often when we think of bullying we think of it as someone overtly undermining us however often bullying is very subtle but equally damaging. The Health and Safety Authority website, www.hsa.ie, gives many examples of what can constitute bullying, these include social exclusion and repeated requests with impossible deadlines or impossible tasks. If you believe that you are being bullied keep a note of dates, times and description of incidences. Then report it to either your manager or a HR representative who are obliged to investigate your concerns.
- Reach out for support.
If you are experiencing work stress it can really help to reach out for support. Chose someone who is close to you, who you know has your best interest at heart and who you trust. Feeling isolated can often occur and you may feel that you are burdening people with your difficulties, however this is not the case and it is important for your mental health to share how you are feeling with someone close. If you are unable to share your difficulties with someone close talking to a counsellor can help give you the support you need.
- Understand where the stress is been driven from.
The question to ask here is are you possibly contributing to your work stress. Are you constantly striving to be perfect or please other people? Your personality type may be influencing your work style so take time to think if you can start to be easier on yourself at work and say no on occasion.
- Mind yourself.
Eating healthily, exercising and getting enough rest are all important to your emotional wellbeing. Mindfulness practice is a proven stress reduction technique. It helps improve concentration, reduce reactivity and promote calmness. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of mindfulness has written many accessible books which are a great introduction to the practice.
- Seek professional help.
If your day to day functioning is being compromised due to work stress it is important that you seek professional help. You can contact me on 086 3893745 for a free initial consultation.