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The Workplace - Common Cause of Stress

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RSS 16 March 2009
The workplace is a very common place to find stressful situations. The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) reports that work related stress accounts for over a third of all new incidences of ill health in the UK.

They also report that each case of work related stress, depression or anxiety related ill health leads to an average of 30.6 days lost - leading to a total of 13.5 million working days lost to work related stress, depression and anxiety in 2008/09.

Causes of stress in the workplace include:

  • Work overload or underload
  • Long hours
  • Too much or too little responsibility
  • Dissatisfaction with the current role or responsibilities
  • Limited chances of promotion
  • Lack of positive feedback or recognition
  • Job security
  • Low pay
  • Poor working environment - noise, danger, isolation etc)
  • Excessive travel
  • Gruelling commute
  • Problems with boss or management
  • Prejudice
  • Office politics
  • Problems with co-workers, staff
  • Problems with clients or angry customers

Someone who is suffering from stress in the workplace will often:

  • Have more absences due to ill health
  • Be tired
  • Get less done
  • Care less about their work
  • Have trouble concentrating
  • Be irritable
  • Get into more arguments than usual
  • Little sense of humour
  • Have less interest in life outside work

Many techniques can be used to help reduce stress in the workplace and help create methods of reducing the likelihood of stress such as time management. Additional techniques such as listening to calming music can promote a more relaxing environment in which to work. Using aromatherapy oils can produce a similar effect.

It may be that some assertiveness training may be required to improve the way in which we interact with the people that we come into contact with (bosses, management, fellow staff, clients or customers), without losing our temper and improve our relationships with them. This is a technique which could be applied out with the working environment also. The next article shall explore this further.

Starting the day unstressed can help ensure that we are less likely to be stressed through the day. To do this we should ensure that we get enough quality sleep, get up a little earlier in the morning, eat a healthy breakfast and ideally work out before taking a shower. Try to ensure that your commute is as calm as possible. Ideally your commute should be relaxing, this can be achieved by leaving a little earlier to avoid the crowd. You should plan something to look forward to each day. It is important that you should not intend to start your working day with a task that you dislike. De-stressing your workday by using relaxation techniques, time management and taking breaks away from your desk every now and then can improve the workday and help give your eyes a rest from the computer screen (if you use one). Listening to calming music can relax you during tasks.

Lighting in the workplace should be soft and adequate. A clutter free desk is not only organised but visually will not remind you of other tasks or workload. Consider the ergonomics of your workplace, and your posture - if you are not comfortable your body itself will be put under stress. You should never skip lunch and ideally not eat lunch at your desk - instead take time away from the desk and include a brisk walk.

When you leave your workplace, create a 'to do list' for the next day, and settle into your home routine leaving all aspects of work at work. Do not bring work home! Instead allow yourself to unwind and relax and settle into your home routine. Leave any of the stress of work in the workplace.

© 2009 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Image: 31/365 - Stress. by BLW Photography

Martine McFarlane
17th March 2009

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