Work place stress is a common phenomenon and it is taking it’s toll on lives daily with devastating effects and no one is immune to it. Anyone who is working or has ever held a job, would at some point, felt the pressure of work-related stress. Any job can have stressful elements, even if you love what you do so much. In the short-term, you may experience pressure to meet a deadline or to fulfill a challenging obligation. But when work stress becomes chronic, it can be overwhelming and harmful to both physical and emotional health.
A 2017 survey carried out by Dr Olabode Shabi, Chairman of the Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria, (SFPN) Ekiti Zone, has said that over seven million Nigerians currently suffer stress and depression.
The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) reports that the medical consultant made this disclosure at Ado Ekiti in a ceremony organized by the Information Chapel of the state council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) recently.
In a paper titled “’Stress and Depression in Workplace: Strategic approach to management’’ he described stress as an exaggeration of normal physical response to events and life challenges that makes a person feel threatened or upset in some ways.
He added that depression was a common mental health problem that affect 29 million persons in Africa, out of an estimated 322 million people currently affected worldwide. This claim is corroborated by the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual Stress in America Survey report of 2017 shows over 78 Percent are stressed out this was captured in the APA 10Th Edition Publication, Stress in America.
TPCN Online has also found that job-related stress is a serious issue and has informed the bringing to the fore this silent killer. You can’t always avoid the tensions that occur on the job. Yet you can take steps to manage work-related stress.
Work Stress can be traced to several factors:
Certain factors tend to go hand-in-hand with work-related stress. Some common workplace stressors are:
- Low salaries.
- Social media induced constant checker syndrome.
- 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.
- Poor interpersonal relationship with colleagues and superiors in various offices as well as low trust level and lack of problem shared.
- Poor working environment
- lack of job security occasioned by fear of redundancy and early retirement
- Conditions outside the work-place also create stress levels such as low literacy level, poverty, short life expectancy, negative life events such as bereavement, job loss, financial difficulties, divorce, loneliness, childhood abuse and neglected medical illnesses.
- Finally, exposure to chronic pains as well as imbibing some mentally stressful lifestyles such as misuse of certain prescription drugs and abuse of substances such as cocaine, narcotics, Tramadol and alcohol.
Effects If Left Uncontrolled Stress
Unfortunately, work-related stress doesn’t just disappear when you head home for the day. When stress persists, it can take a toll on your health and well-being.
In the short term, a stressful work environment can contribute to problems such as headache, stomachache, sleep disturbances, short temper and difficulty concentrating. Chronic stress can result in anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. It can also contribute to health conditions such as depression, obesity and heart disease. Compounding the problem, people who experience excessive stress often deal with it in unhealthy ways such as overeating, eating unhealthy foods, smoking cigarettes or abusing drugs and alcohol.
Steps to Effective Management of Stress
- Track your stressors. Keep a diary for a week or two to identify which situations create the most stress and how you respond to them. Record your thoughts, feelings and information about the environment, including the people and circumstances involved the physical setting and how you reacted. Did you raise your voice? Snapped by destroying or smashing something? Go for a walk? Taking notes can help you find patterns among your stressors and your reactions to them.
- Develop healthy responses. Instead of attempting to fight stress with fast food or alcohol, do your best to make healthy choices when you feel the tension rise. Exercise is a great stress-buster. Yoga can be an excellent choice, but any form of physical activity is beneficial. Also make time for hobbies and favorite activities. Whether it’s reading a novel, going to concerts or playing games with your family, make sure to set aside time for the things that bring you pleasure. Getting enough good-quality sleep is also important for effective stress management. Build healthy sleep habits by limiting your caffeine intake late in the day and minimizing stimulating activities, such as computer and television use, at night.
- Establish boundaries. In today’s digital world, it’s easy to feel pressure to be available 24 hours a day. Establish some work-life boundaries for yourself. That might mean making a rule not to check email from home in the evening, or not answering the phone during dinner. Although people have different preferences when it comes to how much they blend their work and home life, creating some clear boundaries between these realms can reduce the potential for work-life conflict and the stress that goes with it.
- Take time to recharge. To avoid the negative effects of chronic stress and burnout, we need time to replenish and return to our pre-stress level of functioning. This recovery process requires “switching off” from work by having periods of time when you are neither engaging in work-related activities, nor thinking about work. That’s why it’s critical that you disconnect from time to time, in a way that fits your needs and preferences. Don’t let your vacation days go to waste. When possible, take time off to relax and unwind, so you come back to work feeling reinvigorated and ready to perform at your best. When you’re not able to take time off, get a quick boost by turning off your Smartphone and focusing your attention on non-work activities for a while.
- Learn how to relax. Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises and mindfulness (a state in which you actively observe present experiences and thoughts without judging them) can help melt away stress. Start by taking a few minutes each day to focus on a simple activity like breathing, walking or enjoying a meal. The skill of being able to focus purposefully on a single activity without distraction will get stronger with practice and you’ll find that you can apply it to many different aspects of your life.
- Talk to your supervisor or Boss. Healthy employees are typically more productive, so your boss has an incentive to create a work environment that promotes employee well-being. Start by having an open conversation with your supervisor. The purpose of this isn’t to lay out a list of complaints, but rather to come up with an effective plan for managing the stressors you’ve identified, so you can perform at your best on the job. While some parts of the plan may be designed to help you improve your skills in areas such as time management, other elements might include identifying employer-sponsored wellness resources you can tap into, clarifying what’s expected of you, getting necessary resources or support from colleagues, enriching your job to include more challenging or meaningful tasks, or making changes to your physical workspace to make it more comfortable and reduce strain.
- Get some support. Accepting help from trusted friends and family members can improve your ability to manage stress. Your employer may also have stress management resources available through an employee assistance program (EAP) or Staff Welfare Program, including online information, available counseling and referral to mental health professionals, if needed. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by work stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist, who can help you better manage stress and change unhealthy behavior.
- Be Realistic: develop the ability to refrain from problems, focus on positive things, accepting things one cannot change.
- Abstain from Drugs Misuse: Abuse of prescription drugs may also trigger stress levels. It is advisable to stick to proper prescription regimen and seek medical advice from your doctor or Pharmacist on drug use.
- Avoid the constant checker Syndrome: The Smartphone advent is meant to make lives easier but a closer look has found that it is linked to 40 percent stress level inducement due to its effects of relationships, family, work, overall health and well being.. The need to constantly stay connect has caused sleep deprivation, accidents, deaths and work place incidents and job loss. One should try to limit the use and switch off when necessary. This will help in keeping one’s mind at rest.
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News Agency of Nigeria
American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual Stress in America Survey report of 2017
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