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Work Place Stress

On this page: What is Work Place Stress?

What is Work Place Stress

It is not unusual for clients to seek counselling at our Centre because they are not coping with the demands of their work. This article provides a brief overview of some of the causes of work place stress and some suggestions for what people might do to manage it.

The stress caused by work can manifest in many ways including insomnia, low mood, excessive fatigue, symptoms of anxiety such as ‘butterflies’ in the stomach, nausea, a sense of dread in relation to attending work, and a general sense of feeling overwhelmed.

The actual causes of workplace stress that result in people coming in for help vary, but commonly include poor management whereby the person seeking help may feel unsupported at work, not sufficiently directed in relation to their tasks and insufficient or unclear feedback. Similarly, when one’s job role is ill defined by management and the worker is subsequently taking on work beyond his or her own expectations and capacity, stress will result. Other factors we have seen include insecurity in one’s job future and working long hours.

Underpayment is another reason people feel stressed as they feel undervalued or a sense of unfairness. Finally when one’s personality is not suited to the job role or work environment, stress often results. An example of the latter cause for work stress would be a person who enjoys working as part of a team, with other people, but is actually working in isolation with little or no contact with people.

There are numerous ways of effectively assisting people suffering work stress in counselling. The best advice is to seek help early so that the stress does not build up to levels that seem overwhelmingly unmanageable – ‘nip it in the bud’ approach. Of course, this is not always the possible.

Ways of assisting people include training in assertion skills, time management strategies, organisation and planning strategies, self-esteem and confidence building, coping skills training, conflict resolution advice or skills, advice about sexual harassment or work place bullying, or perhaps support or guidance in vocational re-training or changing one’s job.

The possibilities within counselling fall into two categories.
1. Changing things within oneself, such as learning a new skill or thinking about things differently,
2. Changing one’s environment, such as where you are located or use of things such as planning calendars, diaries etc

In addition to your experience within the workplace, there are other very important factors to consider which relate to general stress management. This is very important, as it is reasonable to expect one’s stress level to be lower at work if one is ensuring their stress levels are generally low. This is achieved by ensuring one is getting adequate rest and sleep, a healthy diet, minimal stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, regular aerobic exercise (where one’s heart rate is elevated) and plenty of time for pleasurable activities and social contact. Relationships are of critical importance to one’s psychological well being, so be mindful of the time and capacity you make available to nurture and look after them.


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