Why are You Stressed at Work?

Are you overwhelmed at work?  Do you feel anxious and irritable all of the time?  Is your workplace stress starting to impact your relationships?  If so, then it is time for you to address it.  The first step is to identify why you are stressed: 

Do you feel physically healthy?  Are you eating properly?  Are you getting enough sleep?  Is it possible that you have a health condition that is draining your energy?    When we don’t feel well physically, it makes it significantly more difficult for us to cope with the daily stresses of life.  Take care of your body and see a doctor if you have any health concerns. 

Is there something in your personal life that is causing your stress?  We are not machines.  When something is bothering us at home, it can be difficult to focus on work.  In addition, many of us struggle with finding a work/life balance. If balancing your work and home life is causing you stress, your employer may be able to offer you some support or flexibility.   

How long have you been feeling stressed?  Have you been feeling overwhelmed for just a few weeks or has it been dragging on for a while?  Is it possible that you are going through a stressful period and that things will soon settle down?  If this is the case, you may just need to hang on and wait for things to get back to normal.  However, if the stress has been overwhelming for more than a month, then there may be a problem that needs to be addressed.     

What triggers your stress?  When do you feel the most stressed?  Is it when you have a lot of tasks but not enough time to do them?  Is there a particular person who stresses you out?  If you can successfully identify your triggers, it will be much easier for you to address the problem. 

Look at your work environment.  How is the mood at work?  Are your co-workers stressed?  Is your workplace a busy and tense environment?  If so, stress may be a part of the job.  You need to either learn to live with it or find a new job.  Remember, the stressful environment could just be a part of the organizational culture.  If that’s the case, then you may be happier working somewhere else.   

Do you face conflicts at work?  Many of our jobs regularly put us in conflicts with others (co-workers, customers, suppliers, etc.)  If you are regularly encountering conflicts, this could explain your stress.  Is there any way that you can avoid or lessen the conflicts that you face in your job?  How can you change the way that you handle these conflicts to make them less stressful for you? 

Are the expectations for your job clear and reasonable?  Do you have a clear understanding of what you are expected to do at work?  Are you aware of how your performance will be evaluated?  Do you feel that the expectations of you are reasonable?  Unclear and unreasonable expectations are a common cause of workplace stress.  If this is an issue for you, it would be a good idea for you to communicate your concerns with your manager.  Very few managers want to set up their employees to fail.  

Do you enjoy your work?  Waking up each day to go to a job that you hate would make anyone tense.  If you spend your work day watching the clock and waiting for it to be over, then it may be time to consider a career change.  

Do you feel like your job is not secure?  Have there been layoffs at your workplace?  Do feel like if you don’t perform well, you could be next?  In today’s labour market, no job is secure.  However, instead of letting the stress consume you, get yourself prepared in case the worst does happen.  If you keep your skills current, maintain an active network, and have some savings on hand, you will always be ready to find a new job.

Now that you know why you are stressed, it is time to take action.  Address the problem immediately so that your situation improves.  Stress can be harmful to both your mental and your physical health, so it is important that you take it seriously.  The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety can provide you with more information on workplace stress and resources to help you cope with it:

http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/stress.html

(Written by:  Karen Bivand, Photo From: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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