5 ways to ‘fire’ workplace stress

Stress can be both healthy and harmful and each of us experiences it differently…

But one thing is certain: workplace stress is a big, big problem millions of American’s face almost daily. And it doesn’t just stay at the office. Workplace stress is derailing human health, and when it comes home with you, it can drag down the quality of your life as well.

However, if you can recognize the signs of stress and learn to see the workplace situation as it is, then you can take steps that not only improve your time on the job, but your life as well.

Stressful statistics…

According to a report titled, “Attitudes in the American Workplace VII” there’s a lot of stress affecting a lot of people when they leave for work each day. In fact…

  • 80% of workers feel stress on the job
  • About 50% say they need help in learning how to manage stress
  • 42% say their coworkers need such help
  • 14% of respondents had felt like striking a coworker in the past year, but didn’t
  • 25% have felt like screaming or shouting because of job stress
  • 10% are concerned about an individual at work they fear could become violent
  • 9% are aware of an assault or violent act in their workplace
  • 18% had experienced some sort of threat or verbal intimidation in the past year

In other words: workplace stress is widespread and very serious issue.

Causes of workplace stress…

So what causes workplace stress? Well, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), certain factors combine to form the “perfect storm” environment for workplace stress, including:

  • Low salaries
  • Excessive workloads
  • Few opportunities for growth or advancement
  • Work that isn’t engaging or challenging
  • Lack of social support
  • Not having enough control over job-related decisions
  • Conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations

The problem is, employees often feel they have no control over their workplace or the stress they endure because of it. Let’s now look at some solutions that are within your sphere of control.

Managing workplace stress…

If you experience this kind of stress for most of these reasons, change is surely needed. But even if you can’t change jobs or change everything about your work environment, you can change the way if affects you. Let’s review some solutions for accomplishing this…

  1. Know when you’re stressed. Many people don’t recognize the signs of stress until it’s too late. Having tight shoulders, headaches, cramps and insomnia is “normal.” Learn to nip stress in the bud by recognizing its warning signs: tension in the low back and neck/shoulders, headaches, irritability, anxiety, depression, apathy, sleepiness and difficulty concentrating on the task at hand.
  2. Learn to prioritize. Making lists of tasks and ranking them is a great way to reduce stress by managing workload. Start each day with a list and amend it as you work through it. The next day, start the list fresh based on changes from the prior day. This will help you stay focused.
  3. Control your emotions. Allowing stress to lead your emotions creates more stress and disharmony. When you feel you are getting irritable or angry because of stress, take a break, spent 30 seconds deep breathing to relax, put on some nice music or simply walk away from your desk or office for a while.
  4. Change your perceptions. Our perceptions of an event or our job creates the reality we live in. So by changing your perceptions of yourself, your co-workers, your boss and the work itself, you can change the way you experience the reality of your workplace and your role in it.
  5. Make time for self-care. Making time for yourself is essential for quality of life and overall wellness. Regardless of project schedules and workplace demands, you must take time each day for self-care. This could mean eating away from your desk, taking a walk at lunch, doing 30 seconds of meditation every hour to release stress and re-center emotions, eating a more balanced lunch and allowing yourself to speak openly with co-workers or managers about work and workplace stress.

What you definitely don’t want to do is accept the stressful work environment and chalk it off as normal, or allow the stress to control your physical and emotional health. If you do, burnout will result. That’s a whole other set of issues we’ll address in my next post.


Dr. Mark Wiley

By Dr. Mark Wiley

Dr. Mark Wiley is an internationally renowned mind-body health practitioner, author, motivational speaker and teacher. He holds doctorates in both Oriental and alternative medicine, has done research in eight countries and has developed a model of health and wellness grounded in a self-directed, self-cure approach. Dr. Wiley has written 14 books and more than 500 articles. He serves on the Health Advisory Boards of several wellness centers and associations while focusing his attention on helping people achieve healthy and balanced lives through his work with Easy Health Options® and his company, Tambuli Media.