With over 80% of workers across the globe admitting to feeling stressed out at work, it’s clear stress is on the rise worldwide. It’s a situation that needs addressed.

There are different kinds of stress, and a certain amount is normal.

Not only that, when it’s properly managed and processed, can be beneficial.

Healthy amounts of stress can keep you focused, increase your energy, and motivate you to meet challenges.

But ongoing stress that isn’t processed can be very harmful, both physiologically and emotionally. It can destroy job satisfaction, as well as lead to illness, accidents, exhaustion…even complete breakdowns.

Major sources of stress in the workplace include:

The challenge of balancing work life and personal life. Mobile phone use has increased this pressure, by making you accessible whether or not you’re in the office. You end up feeling “on the clock” even when you’re supposed to be at home unwinding – and add in people texting you out of hours it can feel like it never ends

Balancing conflicting responsibilities and facing deadlines imposed by other people. This situation comes with the territory in the vast majority of job roles, and it can be an energy drain that can leads to confusion and shut down.

Finding the motivation, energy, and time to interact with others, such as in meetings, or to work out solutions that require collaboration, in particular, can lead to feelings of dread, avoidance, and procrastination–all of which add to stress.

Work environment. There’s no denying that certain work environments foster more stress, such as dealing with hostile or unfriendly attitudes that may contribute to a feeling of verbal abuse, or at least a lack of emotional support from supervisors or managers.

Are women more prone to workplace stress?

Although work stress affects both men and women both, women more often participate in non-paid household responsibilities that drain their mental energy, so the act of juggling between home and work adds additional layers of stress.

And should they work in a more male-dominated occupation, doing so sometimes includes pay discrepancies or the need to work harder to prove not only their worth in the job role, but that they’re worthy of advancement and pay increases.

It may also lead to female employees not feeling supported by their male managers or even being subjected to sexual discrimination.

All of these factors contribute to additional stress.

Another BIG source of exhaustion and overload at work is that women are less likely to engage in self-care than men, which limits their ability to process the stress they do feel.

For example, almost 80 percent of women have trouble sleeping at night, whereas under two-thirds of men report this issue. Since sleep is one of the most effective means of metabolising cortisol, the hormone responsible for triggering our body’s stress response, this is a serious problem.

Plus, one-quarter of women are not eating balanced diets, while almost 40 percent of men say they do.

Since the food we eat influences both our bodies and our minds (not just in theory – there’s hard data to prove diet affects brain function and moods, as well as your health), again, a serious problem for someone who’s already very stressed.

Managing stress as a worker

Excessive stress at work can affect performance, productivity, and relationships at work and home. It also can cause job failure.

But there are ways to deal with work demands to protect the worker from this damage.

How to lessen the impact of stressors varies with the type of stressor.

For example, take deadlines. One way to cope with deadlines is to have a list of priorities. What absolutely HAS to get done, and when can be negotiated and reshuffled?

This is easier to do if you know something about the people or clients you work with, and you’re aware of how they think and react. When you negotiate with them about reshuffling deadlines, or ask others for help, it’s immensely helpful to keep an open mind, and to see these people–whether they’re co-workers or complete strangers–as a source of ideas and solutions, rather than as a point of tension.

Asking for help, whether it’s with deadlines or other things, can be a huge relief. Don’t be afraid to reach out!

Communication in general is critical to alleviating stress. Keeping things bottled up makes everything worse, even if it feels sensible in the short-term.

As for balancing your personal and work priorities, it will never be easy or perfect.

But one thing that helps is to create boundaries that help you leave work stress at work, and flip the switch to your personal life self when you get home.

Accomplishing this may include setting expectations with your employer and/or co-workers, by informing them of your boundaries, and sticking with those boundaries.

Also, look for opportunities to help your work and home life intersect more smoothly. The people in your personal life are great resources for this, as are people who’ve already accomplished it.

And of course, don’t forget about self-care! Whether that’s getting more sleep by turning off devices and the TV, taking vacations, yoga, exercise (which is another way to metabolise cortisol), a bubble bath, meditation–whatever works for you–do something that allows you to process your stress, so it doesn’t keep building up with no relief.

Spend time with the people you love, too, doing something fun and positive. Definitely enjoy your alone time, but remember that we’re wired for connection, and a fun get-together can be a great way to blow off some steam.

Alleviating your employees’ stress

If you’re a manager, there are many things you can do to help alleviate your employees’ stress, including:

– Allowing flexible working hours.

– Allowing employees to pace their work

– Encouraging open communication and venting of feelings, so that workers feel appreciated and validated as valuable contributors

Flexible work schedules are especially helpful for people with families.

– Always being aware of how you speak to staff and ensure that they feel supported and listened to

When it comes to reducing the stress female employees feel, offer performance incentives and pay raises across the board to encourage and uplift everyone.

And remember that women and men operate very differently in some ways, yet so much of workplace culture has been molded around traditionally masculine qualities, requiring women to “fit in” or suffer the consequences in some way.

Accepting and welcoming women’s unique operating system, instead of spurning it, or at best, trying to “accommodate it,” will result in women feeling free to be themselves, and finally be appreciated for it.

In the workplace, time management, asking for help, delegating, and not being a perfectionist when it’s not warranted can save valuable time and energy.

Negative thinking, predicting doom, and failing to be positive are energy drains as well. Give yourself credit for all you do and the progress you make in a day.

And be willing to seek that balance between work time, family/social time, and even alone time, so you can enjoy fulfillment all facets of your life.

Rhian x

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