The Best Ways to Handle a Stressful Work Environment

By Patrick Bailey (Guest Post)

Photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash
Photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash

Everybody who experienced working will admit that they have, at some point, felt the pressure of being in a stressful work environment. No matter how much you love what you do, it will always entail stressful elements.

It may come in the form of fulfilling a challenging responsibility or meeting a deadline. But when the stress at work becomes persistent and long-term, things can get overwhelming. They can also become harmful to both your emotional and physical health.

Sadly, chronic stress has become very common. A survey revealed that work is a primary source of stress among many Americans across the country. While you cannot entirely avoid work-related tensions, you can do certain steps to manage stress at work.


Symptoms of Work-Related Stress

There are several warning signs and symptoms of work-related stress. These may be psychological, physical, and/or behavioral.

Below are its psychological symptoms:

  • Feeling discouraged
  • Anxiety
  • Pessimism
  • Depression
  • Feelings of being unable to cope
  • Irritability
  • Reduced ability to make decisions or concentrate

The following are the physical symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscular tension
  • Gastrointestinal upsets like constipation or diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Dermatological disorders

The behavioral symptoms include:

  • Problems with interpersonal relationships
  • Aggression
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Mood swings
  • A drop in work performance
  • Disinterest
  • Decreased initiative and creativity
  • Lower tolerance of impatience and frustration


How Does Work Become a Stressful Environment?

Several issues were identified as possible stressors at work. These include bad management policies, organizational culture, physical work environment, and job contents and demand. Change of management, role conflict, relationships at work, and lack of support from workmates or the management are also potential stressors.

There are also several factors that generally cause stress at work, such as:

  • Heavy workload
  • Tight deadlines
  • Long hours
  • Changes in duties or within the organizational
  • Boring work
  • Work insecurity
  • Few promotional opportunities
  • Harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Low salaries
  • Lack of social support
  • Unclear performance expectations or conflicting demands


What Happens if Stress is Uncontrolled?

Work-related stress does not magically disappear at the end of a workday. If stress continues, it can take a toll on your overall health and well-being.

The warning signs and symptoms of stress are not the only effects that can cause pain and discomfort. Chronic stress can also result in a weakened immune system and high blood pressure. It can also exacerbate certain health conditions like heart disease and obesity. To make matters worse, those who go through stress usually deal with it in unhealthy ways, such as smoking cigarettes or abusing alcohol and drugs.


How to Handle a Stressful Environment

There are a number of ways to handle a stressful environment. These include:

Keeping track of your stressors

It is important to identify the things or situations that cause your stress as well as how you respond to them. You can do this by keeping a journal for a minimum of one week to about two weeks. Jot down your feelings, thoughts, and other relevant information about your work environment. This can include the circumstances and people involved, the physical setting, and your reaction.

Did you munch on the chips from the vending machines? Did you yell your thoughts out? Did you storm out of the building to take a walk? Write them down as these will assist you in identifying patterns among the causes of your stress and how you reacted to them.

Come up with healthy responses

It is easy to be carried away with the stress you are feeling. But unmindful responses often lead to an unhealthy reaction. So instead of trying to fight stress with alcohol, junk food or drugs, make a conscious decision to choose healthier options when reacting to tension.

You can do exercises to let the steam off. Physical activity is a great stress-buster. Yoga is a good choice as it enhances both the mind and body. But any form of exercise is just as beneficial. You can also spare some time to do what you want to do. This can range from playing games with your loved ones to reading a book or going to places of interest. The important thing is you set aside time to do the things that will make you happy and provide you much pleasure.

You can also get enough good-quality sleep. This is essential for effective stress management. Develop a healthy sleeping habit by minimizing stimulating activities like watching television or using your phones at night. You can also limit your caffeine intake during the day.

Set boundaries

The digital word has paved the way for pressure to be felt 24/7. Given this, it is necessary to create work-life boundaries for yourself. This may come in the form of prohibiting yourself from checking your emails when you are at home or not answering your phone after 8 in the evening.

While each person has their own preference regarding how they mix their home and work life, it is important to set clear boundaries to lessen the possibility of work-life conflict as well as the stress that goes with it.

Set some time to recharge

Set aside some “me time” to replenish your energy. The negative effects of stress can cause burnout, so you need time to “switch off.” You can do this by letting go of any work-related thoughts or activities.  If possible, go on a vacation. It does not have to be a long trip. Even a weekend away from your usual environment can do you good. You can also do unwinding activities, so you will feel recharged once you go back to work. If a vacation is not possible, you can get a quick boost by turning off your phone and doing stuff other than work.

Learn how to chill

Breathe. Relax. These are what you should do when you feel like you are being suffocated by all the stress around you. Do deep breathing exercises or meditation as they are also great stress-busters. If you practice these regularly, you will soon find yourself getting better at weeding out distractions and just focusing on yourself.


Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.