Managing Work-Related Stress

Managing Work-Related Stress

Workplace stress is a pervasive and potentially debilitating experience, causing anxiety, tension, strain and nervousness.

Higher levels of stress at work have been linked to a wide range of serious mental and physical health conditions including:

  • Depression;
  • Cardiovascular disease;
  • Musculoskeletal disorders;
  • Gastrointestinal disorders.

Prolonged exposure to stress can trigger a downward spiral undermining a person’s ability to cope with existing and new challenges, eroding self confidence, negatively impacting on job performance and satisfaction, demoralising mood, and destabilising interpersonal relationships with co-workers, family and friends.

Stress also can impede the clear thinking, energy and cognitive ability necessary to perform at your peak level and realise your career ambitions and goals.

Work-Related Stress in Managers

For those individuals in Executive, Leadership and Management Levels – the impact of stress may be even more intense and insidious.

Factors such as accountability for the outcomes of others, responsibility for managing significant budgets and projects, pressure to provide a role model for others, and “organisational politics” can all lead to significant stress.

Furthermore, those in senior roles may find themselves less able or inclined to seek help, erroneously believing that seeking help is an indication of weakness; they also often lack access to a cohesive and supportive peer group of others at the same level and experiencing similar stressors. Access to an expert, objective, and insight-inspiring third party is in these cases invaluable in restoring and optimising performance and wellbeing.

Early Warning Signs of Work-Related Stress

Some common early warning signs of the impact of stress may include:

  • headaches, muscular tension, fatigue, stomach upsets;
  • problems sleeping;
  • difficulty concentrating, irritability, mood swings, tearful outbursts;
  • weight gain or loss;
  • nervous habits such as nail biting or pacing;
  • low morale, decreases in the quality of work;
  • heart palpitations;
  • feelings of being overwhelmed and unable to cope;
  • reduced ability to concentrate or make decisions;
  • diminished creativity and initiative;
  • problems with interpersonal relationships;
  • feelings of isolation and hopelessness.

Perhaps you, or someone you care about, is experiencing negative symptoms of work-related stress, or is being held back from realising their full performance potential as a result of stress. Directing this person to appropriate support, including a skilled psychologist, at as early a stage as possible can help them better manage the stress in their life.

We can’t completely stress-proof our lives: stress is a normal part of our professional and personal experience. However working with a psychologist who has particular insight in this field can help you to take more productive steps towards problem solving, managing and resolving sources of stress, and developing a greater emotional resilience to the effects of stress.

While it may be difficult to fathom at the moment, some degree of stress can even be performance and motivation enhancing – if approached with the right tools, mindset and strategy.