If you have a job, you’ve probably got stress. Stress is a natural part of work. And stress is not all bad. Without some level of stress, you wouldn’t get anything done. When we have healthy levels of stress that motivate and engage us, that’s called good stress or ‘eustress’.
The problem is that most of us have higher levels of stress than we need. Those high stress levels can become toxic and have incredibly negative impacts on our health, relationships and work.
So, what do we do about it?
Too many people think that working more will solve the problem. The tragedy is that they work and they work but their stress just increases and their productivity decreases. Working more hours will not reduce your stress.
Research found that employee output falls sharply after a 50-hour work-week, and falls off a cliff after 55 hours — so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours.
Not only do we not get any more work done, those extra hours negatively affect our health and our relationships. Working over forty hours a week leads to:
– Relationship problems
– Increased alcohol and tobacco consumption
– unhealthy weight gain and depression.
So, if working more isn’t the answer, what is?
You have to do something. But it’s not working more. . That just causes more anxiety.
As a leadership coach and consultant, the main causes of stress in the workplace that I’ve seen are:
— work overload
— interpersonal conflict
— lack of clarity — either around roles, goals or direction.
If you want to reduce your workplace stress, you have to take action. You have more work than three people could possibly do? Talk to your boss. You have an impossible co-worker? Have a conversation with them. Figure out how you can work together. You have no idea where the project is going or what your role is? Ask questions to clarify these things.
There are many causes of stress at work. We are one of them. When we avoid dealing with difficult people or situations at work, we get more stressed out.
Don’t do nothing. Do something.
But first, ask yourself the following questions.
1. How did I contribute to this?
2. What can I learn from this?
3. What can I do about this situation?
4. What can I do differently next time?
Don’t skip this step. Too often we race into solving the problem before we’ve figured out what the problem is.
Maybe we think the problem is a co-worker who is slacking off and there is nothing we can do about it. When we ask ourselves, ‘how did I contribute to this?’ we might realise that we are contributing by being too chicken to have a conversation with our co-worker. Or we don’t think it’ll get us anywhere so we don’t bother. Or it went terribly last time so instead of taking a different approach, we just avoid the conversation. Instead of dealing with the problem, we complain about how stressed out we are. But we don’t do anything about it. The situation usually gets worse. And we get more stressed out.
You may not get the result you want, but when you take action and deal with the issue, you reduce your stress. Doing something will decrease your stress even if you don’t get the result you were hoping for. You regain your own sense of power.
If you want more strategies to help you reduce workplace stress, take action — grab my book, ‘9 Strategies for Dealing with Workplace Stress’, it’s only $0.99 or join my newsletter and I’ll send you the book for free. It’s a quick read, only 40 pages long and very practical.