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metro Wellness: Workplace Stress

Promoting the Art of Living Well

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From Nurse to Accountant, construction worker to chief executive officer, the number of Americans who report that they are extremely stressed at work is high – between 29 and 40 percent – and it could be going higher. Because most people spend approximately 25 percent of their adult lives on the job, stress in the workplace can have significant health consequences, ranging from getting more colds to developing heart disease, warn experts from Creighton University Medical Center.



Job stress is defined by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when job requirements do not match the worker’s capabilities, resources or needs.

Research has shown that job stress can increase the risk of injury or disease. Early warning signs of workplace stress can range from headaches and sleep disturbances, to difficulty in concentrating and stomach problems. Chronic conditions linked to stress include cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal conditions and psychological disorders. Stressful work conditions also may contribute to workplace injury, suicide and ulcers.

How can I Fight It?

Combating workplace stress can be approached from several different fronts, says Creighton University Medical Center.

Start by identifying the causes of stress and determine if they can be changed or if they cannot. For example, if you are stressed by a long commute time, you could request a schedule change to miss rush hour traffic or ask to telecommute. If you cannot change a stressor, try to tune it out and focus on areas over which you do have control, says Creighton University Medical Center.

A number of different job conditions can lead to stress, including:

  • Job requirements such as a heavy workload, long work hours or infrequent rest breaks.
  • A management style that results in poor communication with employees or deficient family-friendly policies.
  • Poor interpersonal relationships that cause a lack of support from coworkers.
  • Incompatible work roles due to uncertain job expectations.
  • Career concerns based on job insecurity or absence of advancement or growth opportunities.
  • Unpleasant or dangerous physical conditions.

Some other steps that can be taken to manage a stressful workplace include the following:

  • Get off to a good start by eating a healthy breakfast, planning ahead and having a positive attitude.
  • Set expectations and have a clear understanding of what is required to get your job done.
  • Try to stay away from conflict by avoiding office gossip.
  • Stay organized so you can be more efficient.
  • Pace workday activities by tackling more demanding projects in the morning when you are fresh and doing easier work in the afternoon when you may be tired.
  • Take breaks throughout the day to help unwind or enroll in an after-work exercise program to lift your mood
  • Focus on one job at a time, do it well, and then move on the next item on your agenda.
  • Listen to music on the way home to help relieve stress after work.

Finding a low-stress job may not be realistic for most people, but you can adopt effective strategies to reduce workplace stress.

For more information about dealing with job stress, talk with your doctor or call 866-704-A-DOC for a free referral to a physician near you.

-end- metroMAGAZINE

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