Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Coping with Work Stress

According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (2016), 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.”

Warning Signs
When people feel overwhelmed, they lose confidence and become irritable or withdrawn, making them less productive and effective. Their work then becomes less rewarding. If the warning signs of work stress go unattended, they can lead to bigger problems. Beyond interfering with job performance and satisfaction, chronic or intense stress can also lead to physical and emotional health problems. Some signs and symptoms of excessive stress include:
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Stomach pains
  • Social withdrawal
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope
  • Feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed
  • Apathy, loss of interest in work
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating

Preventing Stress
No standardized approaches or simple “how to” manuals exist for developing a stress prevention program. Program design and appropriate solutions will be influenced by several factors: the size and complexity of the organization, available resources, and especially the unique types of stress problems faced by the organization.

Although it is not possible to give a universal prescription for preventing stress at work, it is possible to offer guidelines on the process of stress prevention in organizations. In all situations, the process for stress prevention programs involves three distinct steps: problem identification, intervention, and evaluation.
Coping with Stress
The troubled economy may feel like an emotional roller coaster. Since job and workplace stress grow in times of economic crisis, it’s important to learn new and better ways of coping with the pressure. Feeling emotional and nervous or having trouble eating or sleeping are often common reactions to stress, but they aren’t beneficial to your well-being. Engaging in healthy activities and getting the right care and support can put problems into perspective and help stressful feelings subside. The ability to manage stress in the workplace can make the difference between success or failure on the job. Listed below are a few tips to help you manage both work and general stress.
  • Avoid pitfalls
  • Communicate effectively
  • Plan regular breaks
  • Prioritize tasks
  • Delegate responsibilities
  • Don’t over-commit yourself
  • Break projects into small steps
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
  • Exercise on a regular basis
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Talk to others about your feelings
  • Avoid using drugs or alcohol to cope
  • Recognize when you need help

On-Campus Resources
Health Education Resource Center
(217) 581-7786

Counseling Center
(217) 581-3413

Health Service
(217) 581-3013

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