Stress has physical and psychological origins and can be caused by bodily and mental disturbances. In fact, it can manifest itself in many environments. In the work environment, it’s extremely common. That’s due to the great variability of stressors that put pressure on workers, collaborators, and professionals of all kinds.
It isn’t easy to define the concept of stress, due to its relationship with a wide variety of diseases. The World Health Organization defines it as “the reaction people may have when presented with demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope”. Furthermore, certain conditions may manifest or grow without being noticed. For example, burnout syndrome.
The definition of stress
According to Dr. Luís Oblitas Guadalupe, stress has physiological and biochemical approaches. They’re generated by your organic responses to situations that you perceive as threatening.
External factors are triggered by psychosocial approaches. However, it’s advisable to understand these approaches as the interaction of variables. Therefore, stress should be seen as the integration of physiological, biochemical, and psychosocial factors.
Manifestations of stress
Regardless of the environment or psychological conditions, stress manifests itself through cognitive effects. This means the consequences can be failures in your concentration and memory, making wrong decisions, unexpected blocking of thoughts, changes in awareness of the passage of time (forgetfulness and disorientation), and even the appearance of muscle tension and pain.
Other stress factors can be identified in your mood, according to the following symptomatic manifestations:
- Abandonment of duties.
- Work absenteeism.
- Frustration and anger.
- Sexual disorders
- Sleep disorders.
- Excessive consumption of cigarettes.
- Drug addiction and abuse of psychoactive drugs.
- Loss of appetite or compulsive hunger.
- Feeling insecure and ashamed.
Work stress: warning signs and causes
There’s a close relationship between stress and your work environment. Indeed, a great variety of psychosocial effects occur in the workplace.
Work stress is due to psychosocial factors that put the health of workers or collaborators at risk due to the demands of the body against external stressors.
The way in which work stress manifests itself depends on how you interpret possible stressors and how you assess the context in which they occur. Furthermore, how aware you are of yourself, how you value yourself in work situations, and what idea you have of your own resources and psychological tools to face and process them.
The symptomatology of work stress doesn’t greatly vary from other types of stress. However, its purpose does. That’s because the stress that causes anxiety isn’t the same as one that stimulates a depressive state. The symptoms of work stress, closely linked to the manifestations discussed above, are the following:
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
- Back pain.
- Hair loss.
- Nausea and migraines.
- Muscle tremors
- Erection problems
- Menstrual disorders.
- Decreased libido.
In general, work stress is presented by the following situations. For work stress to be diagnosed, you have to experience these situations repeatedly and over a period of time
- Work overload.
- Being absent from work.
- Lack of motivation.
- Workplace and sexual harassment.
- Toxic work relationships.
- Working unpaid overtime.
- A sudden change of guidelines.
- Working in hazardous conditions.
- Failures in the organizational culture.
- Exhausting and inflexible schedules.
- Mistreatment by customers.
- Lack of leadership and organizational order.
- Monotonous and repetitive work schedules.
- The non-recognition of your effort and work that you’ve carried out.
- Not having the right tools to meet goals.
- Working in an unstable job together with the uncertainty of being unemployed.
- Being abused for any kind of mistake you make, no matter how minimal.
- Excessive workload with pressure.
Intervention in work stress
The treatment, supported by a mental health professional, should be based on your own feelings and thoughts and on how you represent your work environment and yourself in it. Furthermore, what ideas and emotions do you invest in stressful situations? Remember that the main characteristic of any type of stress is your response to what’s happening.
The key to dealing with work stress is found in emotional balance. Psychotherapists will work on tools for achieving this ability, taking into account the following points:
- Working on your self-esteem and confidence.
- Analyzing your beliefs, values, and judgments.
- Looking for social support networks to provide you with emotional help.
- Working on your communication with others and themselves.
- Detecting and processing any irrational ideas that are fueled by stressors.
- Developing calm and prudence to take control of stressful situations. Or, at least, to mitigate their effects.
- Developing skills to find solutions to stressful situations.
In conclusion, organizations should be advised to have a psychological first aid department, run by Human Resources. This contributes to the organizational culture, with the purpose of preventing work stress, treating its effects, and carrying out campaigns to raise awareness and determine the stressors and early detection of symptoms.
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