In today’s “no shit” headline, we have Work is the Top Cause of Stress. According to a UK study by the Mental Health charity, Mind, 41% of women say that work is more stressful than relationship issues and money problems.
Why is work so stressful and why do we continue to put ourselves in a situation to be stressed out? Why don’t we, especially as women, make the effort to get ourselves out of an overly stressful situation?
Let’s look at first things first; what are some key indicators that you are just too stressed out?
According to HelpGuide.org, stress symptoms can be broken down into 4 main categories: cognitive, emotional, physical and behavioral.
A few main symptoms for each category are listed below.
- Memory problems / Inability to concentrate
- Poor judgment
- Anxious or racing thoughts
- Emotional symptoms:
- Depression or general unhappiness
- Anxiety and agitation
- Feeling overwhelmed / Loneliness and isolation
- Aches and pains
- Nausea, dizziness
- Loss of sex drive
- Eating more or less
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)
Now, why is stress so prevalent in the workplace?
Is it because:
- There is a general lack of feeling of control at work versus in one’s personal life?
- Unattainable deadlines and pressure?
- Office politics and low morale?
- Not being able to switch off; constant emails even outside of the office or the mythical work hours?
- 2nd-degree stress; when a boss or colleague is stressed out it passes to those around them?
- Poor leadership?
Whatever the reason for a stressful workplace, our mental state can completely wreak havoc on our physical state of being. When we are stressed, our body takes a severe hit and it can take ages to rebuild our immunities and regain balance both mentally and physically.
While people recognize that stress is bad, know that work is the leading cause of it, and see the ways that stress manifests itself, what are we supposed to do about it?
The American Psychological Association has some great tips on how to cope with workplace stress. You can read the full list here, but we pulled our top three steps for managing steps and added them below.
- Establish Boundaries. Today's digital culture leads to the idea that we must be available 24/7. With email and texts being widely accessible regardless of where you are, it is easy to feel that we should be on call at all times. However, it is important to remember that we work to live, not live to work! Set some boundaries to make sure that you have time to separate your work and personal life in order to make sure you are able to give your full attention to each bucket of your life.
- Take Time to Recharge / Learn How to Relax. Whether it is meditation, deep breathing, going to a baseball game or checking out a band on the weekend, it is imperative to learn how to recharge your soul and relax into a recovery mode. Recovery mode is important because it actually allows you to come back to work energized and ready to go. Burnout is no joke; don't risk it. Take time to relax, recharge, and enjoy life outside of the office!
- Get Support. Asking for help can be hard, but it is necessary. We are not meant to deal with everything alone - support systems are there for a reason! Talk to trusted friends and family when you need to. Utilize stress management resources available through your job, and don't be afraid to talk to a mental health professional if needed! There is no shame in self-improvement and ensuring that you are mentally your best so that you can bring your best to those around you.
Whichever way you chose to deal with stress, the most important thing is that you do deal with it. Sometimes jobs are hard, sometimes we have bad days; but if those bad days outweigh the good ones, it may be time to look into making a bigger change. Nothing is perfect, but that does not mean you should sacrifice your mental well being because of fear of the unknown.
We at Bluestocking Society would love to know how you relax! Share your favorite relaxation techniques in the comments below!