What is job stress? According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (a division of the CDC), job stress can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Job stress can lead to poor health and even injury.
The concept of job stress is often confused with challenge, but these concepts are not the same. Challenge energizes us psychologically and physically, and it motivates us to learn new skills and master our jobs. When a challenge is met, we feel relaxed and satisfied. Thus, challenge is an important ingredient for healthy and productive work. The importance of challenge in our work lives is probably what people are referring to when they say "a little bit of stress is good for you.” Job stress is different - the challenge has turned into job demands that cannot be met, relaxation has turned to exhaustion, and a sense of satisfaction has turned into feelings of stress. In short, the stage is set for illness, injury, and job failure.
How can you manage stress at work?
First, individuals need to recognize that they are suffering from stress at work. As was mentioned above, the signs are there if you look for them. Are you able to meet your job demands successfully and feel good when you finish something? Are you exhausted all the time? Do you feel irritable a lot and unable to cope with everyday life at work and at home? Do you feel depressed? Do you have a lot of unexplained aches and pains that come and go? Do you have trouble sleeping? All of these things point to undue stress. An interesting point is that what causes some people added stress doesn’t bother others. Stress is an individual thing.
Once you understand that there is a problem, there are some things you can implement to help. Try to keep a balance between work and family or personal life. Working constantly without any time off is a sure way to burn out. Remember the old saying, ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ It can also cause illness, physical and psychological. Taking a sufficient amount of time away from work to play and spend time with family and friends helps you to relax and re-energize so that when you do go back to work, you’re fresh and alert.
Studies have confirmed that having a network of friends, family and coworkers who are supportive relieves a lot of pressure for people who have stress at work. While at work, take small breaks occasionally, talk to coworkers, take a short walk at lunchtime, and keep pictures of loved ones on your desk or at your workspace. All of these things can have a calming effect on you. Along with taking time to play, adopt a relaxed and positive outlook on life. Try not to take everything and everyone so seriously. The better your outlook, the better you feel physically and mentally.
Some companies provide stress management programs for their employees, and unfortunately, some do not. These programs can be helpful and are certainly better than nothing, but studies have found that these programs have two major disadvantages:
- The beneficial effects on stress symptoms are often short-lived.
- They often ignore important root causes of stress because they focus on the worker and not the environment.
Are there any standard tools to effectively manage stress at work?
Yes. Heart Reviser's Stress Monitor is a PC software tool which you can use to monitor your stress level in real-time while working. It uses a little device that attaches to your earlobe and transmits data to the PC. While you're working hands-free, you can always see your stress level in a system tray. When your stress level becomes closer to a danger zone, it notifies you about that and provides shortcut to launch Stress Sweeper. Once the stress is relieved, you can continue working. The benefits from using that tool is that your body remains stress-free. Stress does not have a chance to harm your body since you're getting early notifications and preventing the stress. The tool is recommended for people with issues of sleep disorders, high risk of heart disease, hypertension or high blood pressure. and it is optimized for use by customer service and technical support personnel, brokers and sales persons.
Stress Monitor is a proactive measure you can take to help relieve stress and improve your health.