How stress can affect the workplace


Maintain your mental healthEveryday life in any work place environment comes packed with different challenges that we must all face and overcome. Work can become stressful in many unique ways; the workload can become too much for some.

In turn this can lead to individuals feeling down and even resulting in sleepless nights in some instances.

It is estimated that the effects of stress cost UK employers between £33 billion and £42 billion each year. Stress not only impacts our mental health but our physical health too. It can cause physical changes in our bodies which can have an impact on our immune system, therefore making it harder for us to fight off viruses.

This results in days taken off sick, which has a cost to employers and the UK economy.

It’s important to remain positive around the workplace, try to keep a can-do attitude and relish new challenges. You can always ask for help from a colleague or your boss and receive some advice from them, try to communicate how you feel and if you’re struggling, they may just be able to give you guidance on how to start feeling more positive about your line of work.

You may be surprised to learn that the effects of stress include both physical and mental symptoms. On the physical side of things, you can experience headaches, muscle tension or pain, stomach problems, and a faster heartbeat. Whereas the mental issues raised by stress include, difficulty with concentration, a constant sense of worry, becoming forgetful, and even being overwhelmed more frequently.

Workplace Stress

Well-designed, organised and managed work is good for us but when insufficient attention to job design, work organisation and management has taken place, it can result in work-related stress.

Work-related stress develops because a person is unable to cope with the demands being placed on them. Stress, including work-related stress, can be a significant cause of illness and is known to be linked with high levels of sickness absence, staff turnover and other issues such as more errors.

Stress can hit anyone at any level of the business and recent research shows that work related stress is widespread and is not confined to particular sectors, jobs or industries. That is why a population-wide approach is necessary to tackle it.

If you feel stressed or begin to notice your stress levels rising and think it may be something to do with work, you should do something about it. Is the position you’re currently in right for you? Perhaps not. Maybe it’s something else entirely, but throughout this article we will take a deep dive into the different causes of work-related stresses and how they can leave people feeling anxious or feeling down, and how to possibly resolve those feelings.

Stop it from getting to you

 According to Help Guide, stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of threat or demand. It is a defence mechanism of sorts that acts as if it’s protecting you, though it can make us feel so down.

Help Guide reports, “The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life—giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid a car accident”.

With all that said, it’s worth noting that the feeling of stress doesn’t always have to automatically be associated with negativity. As Help Guide suggests, stress can even save your life, it can make you act in alert ways that you may not have been able to without it.

Difficult work-life balance

  • Give yourself short breaks. Take these throughout the day, as well as at least half an hour away from your desk at lunch. Spend some time outside if you can.
  • Take some time off. Try to use the holiday you’re entitled to. If things get too much, a few days off or a long weekend can help you feel refreshed. This can even increase your productivity in the long run.
  • Focus on your life outside work. Nurture relationships with people you don’t work with. Develop interests and skills that you don’t use in your job. This can help you see the difference between your personal life and your working life.
  • Develop end-of-day habits. Finish your working day by tidying your workspace or making a to-do list for tomorrow. This can help you switch off from work, especially if you’re working from home.

Business owners suffer as well

The effects of stress can be frequent with business owners as they’re under such a high amount of pressure at all times. They pour their heart and soul into the business venture they choose to proceed with, hoping it can become a global brand, or even just make enough money to earn them a living. Failure isn’t something they want to think about, but it is naturally always in the back of their minds.

35% of business owners lose the motivation to run their business at least once a year due to stress related issues, making it one of the largest stress inducing positions anyone can take in the workplace.

Entrepreneur state that one of the ways you can reduce this stress factor, if you’re the owner of a business, is to remember what’s going right. They suggest, “You can improve your stress management in business by reminding yourself of the things that are going right. List out all your accomplishments and any small business milestones you’ve achieved. There are probably more than you realise. Don’t neglect even the smallest accomplishments. Put your list somewhere you can easily see it, such as on your desk or the wall. Whenever you feel stressed about all the things that are going wrong, look at your list. Take a moment to remember all the things that have gone right.

Take the break you’re able to

While it’s true that many business owners have virtually no holiday allowance as they have to be around to oversee the running of their venture, ignoring this opportunity to shut off from stress for a week or two at a time is a huge error. Stop ignoring your need for relaxation and taking time out of a stressful environment in order to clear your head. If you take a holiday even just once a year, it’ll give you a welcomed break from your usual daily working life, so stop neglecting time to relax and instil some enjoyment back into your lifestyle.

Taking holidays and breaks from work also benefits your heath in many ways, both mentally and surprisingly physically. According to research, this is all thanks to the reduction in stress that holidays provide you with. Thrive Global have reported that, “This reduction in stress allows people to recharge their batteries while they are away so that they return home feeling energised. Too much stress can lead to a wide range of mental health issues, as well as physical problems like a lack of sleep and obesity. Not only this, but many studies have also shown that regular holidays lessens your risk of dying from any cause other than old age and can minimise the risk of heart disease”.

Stress can come from many different places

Working environment stress comes from numerous sources. It tends to be from things such as a highly demanding boss or manager, irritating associates, defiant students, irate clients, unsafe conditions, long commutes to and from work and a never-ending workload. Your work performance is additionally influenced by stressors like family connections, funds and an absence of rest originating from fears and nerves about what’s to come. How you handle the impacts of pressure relies upon whether it is simpler to change the circumstance or change your mentality toward it.

Stress within the workplace can lead you to facing difficulties in areas that you’d usually thrive within. Here’s a look into just a few examples of this:

Helpless Time Management

The positive side of stress is that it can kick off your adrenalin and persuade you to complete tasks more quickly, especially those with impending deadlines on the horizon. A mind-boggling responsibility, absence of companion support and such a large number of requests without a moment’s delay, in any case, add to a feeling of dissatisfaction and frenzy that there isn’t sufficient opportunity to finish the work on time.

If your stress levels are allowed to build up while you are at work, you can begin to experience many different unfortunate factors, such as poor time management skills. Even if you are normally the most efficient of employees, you’ll likely find that when under a great deal of stress, your skills can quickly begin to diminish.

Strained Interactions and Relationships

Stress can play a significant part in raising your temper, making you snap at co-workers and colleagues, and losing control of your emotions far more easily. You may find that when under the feeling of stress, you are quicker to react to people in a negative way, which can in turn create a challenging working environment for everyone present at the office at that time. You may start to develop a more diminished level of self-esteem and find less joy in the work you normally find perfectly fine in your everyday life.

The future can be better than the past

Focusing on past mistakes within a business is something many company owners and operators are guilty of. Instead of looking towards the negative aspects of your venture and working out why those errors were made, look to the future and figure out what you can do now to make advancements and improvements to your business. This could be a change in structure, a new marketing strategy, or something else entirely unique to your companies structure.

By looking to the future you can focus your efforts on growth and sales improvements which will help to bolster the strength and longevity of your company. With so much competition in both online and physical shop platforms, you have to look ahead and find ways of beating your competitors.

The Telegraph reported on the astonishing amount of new start up businesses, “Remarkably, 660,000 new companies are registered in the UK every year. That’s equal to 70 new businesses being formed every hour. That’s the same as every man, woman and child in Glasgow starting a new business every year”.

Maintain your mental health

Don’t be too worried if you start to face troubles relating to stress at work. Stress isn’t an ideal thing to be facing alone, so let others know how you’re feeling. You may take comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone with your thoughts and feelings, or someone may just be able to advise you in a way that shows you guidance and encouragement to carry on with your job role.

Focus on relaxation and switching off from work once you’re out of the office as much as you can, those are strong, proven ways to relieve stress. Don’t let it build up as a long term problem, if you have symptoms of stress, attempt to act against it as soon as possible.