It’s Monday morning and you’re late getting into the office, your inbox contains 576 unread emails and the phone is ringing off the hook. Suddenly, you feel your heart rate rising. Sound familiar? Being stressed sends your body into a state of alarm and increased adrenaline production, but if dealt with correctly, stress can be alleviated without mental or physical harm.
How can I tell if I’m stressed?
You don’t have to be a stress-head to feel the pressure. Especially at work. Even the most relaxed among us have times when everything starts oiling on top of us and we want to tear our hair out. Stress often manifests itself both physically and emotionally with symptoms including headaches, accelerated heart rate, exhaustion, irritability, insomnia, indigestion, loss of concentration and sensitivity to criticism. It is important to acknowledge these symptoms, otherwise stress can incite more serious mental and physical problems such as depression and a worn-out immune system.
The most common causes of stress
According to clinical psychiatrist Dr. Dale Archer (www.drdalearcher.com), work is the most prevalent cause of stress: “Overworking,” he says, “with the downsizing of the economy, more companies are expecting fewer employees to do more work, more hours for the same pay.” Having unrealistic deadlines, an unsupportive manager, poor working conditions, being in the wrong job and feeling undervalued are some factors which may contribute to work-related stress. The current economic climate is also causing additional stress at work with high fears of redundancy. Many are compromising their breaks and staying after hours in a bid to impress their bosses, but are unaware that this could have a detrimental effect on their health and wellbeing in the long run. Dr. Archer also adds that, “Almost everyone is bringing work home and doing business by cell, text and email after hours,” and that many studies point to our coworkers and our bosses as the number one causes of stress.
Other causes include money problems, bereavement, moving house, relationship /family issues.
Effects of stress on health
Dr. Archer says there are a number of side effects of stress including:
- Poor Sleep
- Pathological anxiety
- Nervousness, being tense, anxious
- A sense of dread for no apparent reason
- Depressed mood, low energy
- Loss of interest in usually fun activities
- In addition there are many physical symptoms, says Dr Archer, including racing thoughts, pounding heart, upset stomach.
- How to cope with stress
Sometimes it seems we don’t stand a chance of staying healthy when we’re sitting next to a colleague who’s raging all over their keyboard. Tackling work-related stress can be tricky as most people don’t want to appear as if they can’t cope with their job, but there are some methods to deal with this difficult situation. Dr. Archer suggests that you recognize when you are stressed and figure the cause:
“If you feel great on the weekends and when you wake up, yet miserable by the time you leave the office that indicates work is the problem.”
Dr. Archer also suggests getting enough sleep, exercising often, having a proper diet, and organizing your time effectively can all lead to a reduction in stress levels.
“Recognize that personal time is crucial,” he suggests. “All technological devices have an ‘off’ switch. Use it for completely free time. Realize your work is only a part of who you are. You also have friends, hobbies, and family that define you.”
Dr. Dale Archer is a medical doctor, board-certified psychiatrist, and Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association who has helped thousands of patients for more than two decades. His focus is to give good common sense psychological advice. Specialties include chemical imbalances of the brain, relationships, and personal responsibility.