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Signs, Symptoms & Causes of Stress at Workplace & How to Manage it

Workplace stress is one of the biggest challenges not just for the employees, but also for the employers as it doesn’t only affect the physical and mental health of the individuals but also drains organizational productivity. Interestingly, it is not just specific to an industry or type of job; workplace stressors exist among industries and in organizations of almost all sizes and shapes. Knowing the signs, symptoms, and causes of stress at workplace can be a great help in identifying workplace stress at the earliest and intervening accordingly.

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While it may take a while for the organization to notice the workplace stress, identify the signs, symptoms, and causes of workplace stress and devise a plan for the well being of employees, it can be relatively easier and faster for employees to spot the work related stress symptoms, find the causes and manage the stress on their own.

This article will help you to know the most common causes of stress in the workplace, identify the symptoms and help yourself.

Common Causes of Stress at Workplace

Though the causes of stress at workplace may vary for individuals, there are certain areas that are vulnerable for almost every employee. Considering these vulnerabilities, the most common factors that cause job related stress are:

  • Long work hours
  • Work overload and tight deadlines
  • Being underpaid
  • Recent organizational changes
  • Job insecurity / Lack of growth prospects
  • Micromanaging boss, and, or lack of autonomy
  • Dull work and boring duties
  • Insufficient skills or qualifications for the job
  • Poor working conditions
  • Unavailability of proper resources and equipment
  • Workplace harassment and discrimination
  • Poor workplace relationships with colleagues or bosses
  • Workplace crisis, i.e. an armed robbery or a workplace death.
causes of stress at workplace

So yes, most of the time the work-related stressors are poor organizational culture, bad management practices, mismatch of job content and demands, and lack of support. And, these stressors must be answered by the Human Resources department or the employer himself. 

However, there are certain stressors that are not triggered by the physical work environment, but by an individual’s own capacity to handle the situations, i.e. the role conflict, self learning to meet the job demands, etc.

Identifying the workplace stress on your own is the first step to know if your job is stressing you out and what exactly is bothering you. Read on to know the workplace stress symptoms and check if you have any.

Symptoms of Work Related Stress

Well, the signs and symptoms of workplace or job related stress can either be visible or you may need to dig a bit deeper. These symptoms can be physical, emotional/psychological and behavioural.

Physical symptoms of workplace stress may include fatigue, muscular tension, migraines and headaches, gastronomical disturbances, sleeping difficulties, etc.

Psychological symptoms of work related stress may include, anxiety and depression, bad mood, pessimism, feeling overwhelmed, being unable to concentrate etc.

Behavioural symptoms that may show workplace stress include not liking to go to work, being aggressive, declining work performance, problems with people at the workplace, feeling frustrated, decreased tolerance, disinterest or isolation etc.

List these symptoms and run a check yourself to see if you have any of these. If you observe a few or more of these signs, don’t get overwhelmed with a feeling that there’s something wrong. Instead, be proud of yourself that you found the problem before it could cause damage.

The next step you are going to take is to get rid of it, either by solving it (if it is solvable) or by ignoring it and moving on (if it is not in your control).

A Quick Self Help Guide for the Individuals to Manage Workplace Stress

Once you know the causes of stress at workplace and know what exactly is bothering you at the workplace, you are all set to fix the situation. You can fix your workplace stress in multiple ways, and here are a few ideas to get started.

  • List down all the causes of your stress at the workplace.
  • Brainstorm and list the possibilities of changes you need in order to reduce your stress levels. For instance if you are stressed due to work overload, you can either propose to buy a productivity tool or hire an assistant to increase your productivity. Similarly, if you are stressed due to a co-worker’s attitude you can possibly talk to them directly or through HR.
  • Take the necessary actions needed at your end, i.e. if your job stress can be reduced by upskilling yourself, enroll for a course to do so. Here’s a quick guide on how to find the right university course for yourself.
  • If the problem needs to be resolved by a managerial intervention, go for it. Talk to your employer or human resources manager about your concerns and make sure you are well organized when discussing the matter, i.e. have your meeting notes with you. Here’s a quick guide on when and how to ask for a raise in salary.
  • If your non-work related matters are stressing you at the workplace and you are procrastinating, it’s better to re-evaluate your workplace role and get things done as they are required to. Break down your workplace goals into smaller tasks, prioritize them in order of priority, schedule the least important ones for later and take one day at a time.
  • Stay fit and take good care of yourself; eat healthy, keep moving and stretch a lot.
  • Enroll yourself for a post work sport / gym class and sweat the stress out.
  • Consider regular meditation to revive your energies.
  • Talk about your stress with your loved ones and do not hesitate to ask for support. Remember talking your stress out with your loved ones is way better than taking your stress out on them.
  • Seek professional counseling from a psychologist if needed and do not feel bad about taking medication if it is advised.
  • And last but not least, if your workplace stress continues despite your efforts, it’s probably the right time to switch jobs and move on. There are tens of highest paying jobs that you can find yourself or with the help of employment agencies.

Summing it up!

Workplace stress can be complex for organizations because what one employee may perceive as stressful maybe just challenging for another. So it may take a while for the organization to take lead on your workplace related stress. Knowing the possible causes of stress in the workplace, and its signs and symptoms can indicate job related stress as soon as it happens and with the above self-help guide you can effectively cope up!

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