How does stress affect us at work?

For Stress Awareness Month, it is important to raise awareness and talk about the potentially damaging effects of stress in the workplace, which can have a huge impact on our productivity and overall health.

Experiencing stress at work can be due to several different factors, such as a heavy workload, a demanding boss, financial difficulties, or even lack of sleep. In 2020, 79% of British adults in employment said they commonly experience work-related stress. Recognising the reason why we are feeling stressed in the workplace makes taking the steps to protect ourselves and improve our job satisfaction much easier to manage. This month we will look to highlight how stress can affect us at work, and the positive steps we can take to improve our mental wellbeing and reduce the toll of stress.

 

Lowered productivity

A common symptom of feeling stressed is having trouble concentrating on our daily work tasks. Of course, we can all collectively experience a ‘bad day’ when it comes to our productivity level, however if you are finding yourself with a low interest and apathy towards your work every day, you may be experiencing workplace stress. Studies show that employees who reported experiencing stress at work were 19% less productive than employees not reporting stress. Low productivity can lead to an increase in sick days and lateness, which in turn can lead to final warnings. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or you are a manager concerned about a usually punctual and enthusiastic member of staff, take steps to reach out and provide support.

 

Fatigue

Over time, chronic stress can take its toll on our sleeping patterns. Stress can disrupt sleep and cause insomnia, which leads to lower energy and reduces our ability to perform well at work. Taking on heavier workloads can cause us to feel a pressure to meet deadlines and prioritise work over getting a full night’s sleep. Taking on overtime can also lead us to feel more tired and overworked, and the stress of financial worries can also be a contributing factor. Feeling burnt out can lead to slower reactions and decision-making, which can lead to hazards and poor quality of work. If possible, organise your time to ensure you are getting enough sleep to prepare you for a full day’s work. Try to avoid activities such as TV, smartphones or catching up on work before bed and instead focus on peaceful, soothing activities such as reading and listening to music.

 

Affecting personal relationships

When stressed, we can find ourselves becoming short-tempered with our colleagues, family, and friends. Suddenly being highly irritable or moody around people can be a sign that you are suffering from stress or anxiety. Studies show that incidences of stress often result in irritability, anger, and anxiety – these behaviours can cause tension when being brought home from the office. With working from home becoming the new norm, it is even trickier to separate our work life and personal life. However, taking small steps such as converting a space in your home to dedicate towards your home office away from relaxation areas such as your bed or sofa is a great way to mentally separate work and home life.

 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms at work, please do not hesitate to speak to a Manager and discuss how you are feeling. Together, you can set realistic workloads and targets and solve the issues you are having just by engaging in honest communication. During Stress Awareness Month, we need to reduce the stigma of stress in the workplace and make sure that our employees have access to the right resources and regular two-way communication. This can be done by scheduling 1-2-1 sessions and taking the time to recognise behavioural differences in our staff. If you think you are beginning to be affected by corporate stress, Stress.org has an influx of useful resources and a Corporate Stress Test with a series of questions to help you to develop a better understanding of workplace stress.

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