What do we call work stress?
Work-related stress is a phenomenon that is increasing in our society, mainly because the types of work have been changing in the last decades. It affects the physical and psychological well-being of the worker and can deteriorate the organizational climate.
Currently, due to the relevance of information in production processes, the mental effort requires tasks that traditionally required only muscular strength. Besides, the pace of work has been increasing, since fewer workers have to achieve better results.
But not always the answers to face the demands have a negative character, since many times they are necessary to face difficult situations and for survival. Every person requires moderate levels of stress to respond satisfactorily not only to their own needs or expectations but also to the demands of the environment. And very low levels of stress are related to demotivation, conformism, and disinterest.
Therefore, the distinction between eustress or positive stress (optimal level of activation to perform the necessary activities in our daily life) that exerts a function of protection of the organism and distress or negative stress (level of activation of the excessive or inadequate organism can be made to the demand of the situation) that causes dysfunctions in the person.
How does work stress occur?
Different explanations have been sought about how work stress is generated.
Thus, it has been seen as the result of the interaction between the demands in the work and control that the worker exercises over him. Work stress or high stress arises when the demands of work are high, and at the same time, the ability to control decision making (due to lack of resources) is low. Also, other possible relationships between demands and control are low stress (low demand and high control), active (high demand and high control) and passive (low demand and low control).
The interaction between work demands, worker control and social support has also been seen. In such a way that a high level of social support at work decreases the effect of stress, while a low level increases it. Social support is the help that superiors and co-workers can give when it is appropriate, it can cushion part of the stress generated by the combination of high work demands and low control over work.
What are the consequences of work stress?
The physical alterations that may result from the maladaptive response of the organism to work stressors may be gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disorders, respiratory disorders, endocrine disorders, dermatological disorders, muscle disorders and alterations in the immune system.
Among the negative psychological effects produced by work stress are: excessive worry, the inability to make decisions, the feeling of confusion, the inability to concentrate, the difficulty in maintaining attention, the feelings of lack of control, the sensation of disorientation, frequent forgetfulness, mental blocks, hypersensitivity to criticism, bad mood, greater susceptibility to accidents and the consumption of toxins.
The maintenance of these effects can cause the development of psychological disorders associated with stress. Among the most frequent are: sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, phobias, drug addiction , depression and other affective disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders and schizophrenic disorders.
Among the signs or external manifestations at the motor and behavioral level would be: rapid speech, tremors, stuttering, inaccuracy when speaking, precipitation when acting, emotional explosions, choked voice, overeating, lack of appetite, impulsive behaviors, nervous laughter, and frequent yawns.
All these consequences deteriorate the quality of interpersonal relationships, both family and work, and may cause the rupture of these relationships.
The negative effects of work stress can not only harm the individual but can also cause a deterioration in the workplace, negatively influencing both interpersonal relationships and performance and productivity. They can induce sickness, work absenteeism, increased accidents or even work disability.
Stress induces a loss of production and can create a bad work environment.
The hidden costs, such as the breakdown of human relations, the wrong judgments of professional and private life, the decrease in productivity, the increase in job changes, the decrease in creativity, low performance, aggressiveness in work and the deterioration of the quality of life and well-being.
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