Do you feel like your job is exhausting you?
Do you often continue to worry at home about what happened in the workplace?
Have you been tense lately and is your workload the cause of this?
You’re not the only one. But it is high time you intervened!
Change course before it’s too late because work stress can have dangerous consequences for your health.
Read in this article how you can avoid the consequences of work stress.
What is work stress?
To give you a clear picture of what work stress is, I would like to talk to you about stress in general first.
The Canadian Mental Health Association describes stress as:
When you experience stress, you assume that the demands of a certain situation are greater than your ability to deal with this situation.
Stress can be caused by major events such as a move, a divorce or a death, etc.
But long-term worries also often lead to stress; financial worries, health problems, daily worries, etc.
Just like major events or problems, your job can also cause a lot of stress. When this happens, we talk about work stress.
First of all, let me make something clear: there is a big difference between being busy at work and experiencing work stress.
If you are busy at work, this can be a motivating factor. It can drive you to realize your own goals and those of the company.
You experience work stress when the pressure to perform becomes too great. Unfortunately, due to the high demands of today’s working environment, this is often unavoidable.
You try to do your best, but the pressure to perform and what is expected of you then becomes too much at a certain point.
How does work stress arise?
If we add the above definition of stress, we can say that work stress is caused by the way you react to certain aspects of your workplace.
So not all responsibility lies with you.
Stress at work can just as easily be the result of insufficient support from colleagues or supervisors or of an inefficient organization.
However, the solution to avoid work stress lies with you!
You will learn more about how you can reduce work stress later in this article.
The Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment identifies eight causes of work stress:
If you experience work stress – for whatever reason – then it is high time to slow down a bit.
Just like chronic stress, stress at work can seriously damage your health.
Your body is ingeniously put together. When your body senses that it is in danger, it does everything it can to survive. It does this by producing stress hormones.
These hormones are not always harmful. They help you in dangerous situations. Under the influence of these hormones, all kinds of reactions occur in the body.
Your heart rate rises, your blood pressure rises and your muscles tense. Once the danger has passed, these stress hormones decrease again.
The problem arises when this survival mechanism works continuously. Then these stress hormones continue to rush through your body and you can get all kinds of complaints.
Do you want to know more about this? The video below explains everything in great detail.
The consequences of work stress
Did you watch the video carefully? Then you probably understand how dangerous stress is for your health.
I want you to be well aware of all the dangers of work stress. That is why I would like to list these clearly.
If you recognize one or more complaints in yourself, consider these as warning signs because it can, unfortunately, be worse.
Don’t ignore the effects of work stress! Do something about it because before you know it you will slide into burnout.
Once you end up in a burnout, you will have no choice but to take it easy. You will feel so exhausted that you will have to intervene.
To help you reduce work stress, I have listed 10 tips.
How do you reduce work stress? 10 Tips
Tip 1: Do everything 100%
This first tip comes from Arko van Brakel, general manager of De Baak, the center for leadership of VNO-NCW. A few years ago he suffered burnout himself.
His motto to prevent burnout: do everything 100%. You may think you have already done this. At least as far as your work is concerned. Well, that’s not what he means by doing everything 100%.
It is equally important to take 100% relaxation and rest 100%. This way you give everything your full attention at every moment of your life, making you much more efficient.
Curious about his story? Arko van Brakel himself speaks in the video below.
Tip 2: Write down what causes you work stress and your reaction to this
Only when you have a clear picture of everything that causes you to work stress and how you react to it, you can tackle things.
Sometimes you feel so overwhelmed and stressed that you can’t quite put your finger on why you are reacting a certain way. If you lack insight into these stress factors, you can of course not tackle the situation at all.
An example to get started practically:
As the person responsible for the purchase, you must make an inventory. You walk into the warehouse and are immediately bombarded with questions from the warehouse manager.
You receive a message from the financial service that urgently wants to know what budget they should provide. An important supplier calls you to ask why you haven’t placed a new order yet.
It all becomes too much for you: you snap at the warehouse manager, you don’t answer the message from the financial service and you make up an excuse for the supplier.
Tip 3: Better planning – time management
The above example also immediately makes clear how important good planning is to avoid work stress.
If you had planned the inventory better, the warehouse manager could ask all his questions in advance. You could give the financial service an answer on time and you didn’t have to make an excuse for the supplier.
Draw up a schedule at the start of the working week and stick to that schedule!
You may think, “I don’t have the time for that!” or “I am often unable to stick to my schedule due to external factors.”
I have special news for you: efficient planning creates time!
Rank your tasks by importance and allow extra time for external factors so that they don’t disrupt your schedule.
Tip 4: Sufficient work-life balance
If you are available around the clock, work stress is inevitable.
Therefore, draw clear boundaries between your work and your private life.
Do not take work home with you. Not even in your head!
Do not open work-related emails at home.
If you are called at home, make it clear to your colleagues or supervisors in an assertive way that you make a distinction between work and private life.
Tip 5: Spend your free time well
Lazy on the couch watching an exciting series can easily clear your mind.
Still, exercise is just as important if you experience work stress. Physical exertion ensures that stress hormones disappear from your body.
Exercising also releases large amounts of endorphins. These neurotransmitters are generally known as the fastest-acting anti-stress hormones.
Tip 6: Take care of yourself
A healthy diet and a good night’s sleep also have a positive effect on the effects of work stress.
Sleep calms and restores the body. Your concentration improves and that plays an important role in your judgment and decision-making ability. When you are well rested, you solve problems more efficiently, which means you experience less stress.
Research by the American National Sleep Foundation has shown that stress has a very negative influence on sleep. If you experience work stress, you probably already knew this…
However, the same study also discusses how sleep positively affects stress.
Tip 7: Surround yourself with people you can rely on
You really don’t have to carry the whole world on your shoulders alone. Have a support network of friends or relatives to help carry it all.
If the combination of work and family life threatens to become too much for you, call for help in good time. Family, friends or neighbors may be able to help you with groceries or with the care of the children.
Accepting help will help relieve some of the built-up tension.
Tip 8: Be a little less perfectionist
Several studies can be found in the Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment that prove that perfectionists are much more sensitive to stress.
If you are a perfectionist, you are often less satisfied with your performance than others.
You see small mistakes as gigantic failures and you constantly have the feeling that you can do even better. You also want to prove that and that is exactly why you are so sensitive to work stress.
It’s okay to keep those sky-high standards in check. Everyone probably knows that you are doing more than your best.
You will not be judged on the basis of a detail. Be nicer to yourself and don’t judge yourself for this either.
Tip 9: Be a little more positive about your performance and yourself
If you have had a lot of worries and experienced stress for a long time, you tend to view every situation and yourself from a negative point of view.
You spent a lot of time on a presentation. In the meeting room you do your utmost to explain these as clearly as possible. After the explanation you have inserted a question time.
Unfortunately, no one asks a question. Immediately you think that your colleagues did not understand or that they were not interested. You immediately think that your presentation was not clear enough and you wonder whether you should have spent a little more time on it.
However, you can also look at this situation in a completely different way. There were no questions, so this presentation was clear to everyone.
I know very well that it is not always easy to think positively. That’s why the tip to help you with this.
Turn any negative thought into its opposite and feel how it affects your energy and emotions.
This probably won’t go well. → I have confidence in a positive outcome.
But what if it turns out… → I solve the problems when they arise.
It will all go wrong. → I can take on any challenge that comes my way.
I hope I have clearly explained to you why work stress can be dangerous. I also hope that these simple tips have given you a helping hand to tackle work stress in a timely manner.