In today’s fast paced society and with the current financial climate making it harder than ever to find and maintain employment, it is hardly surprising that work-related stress is a real problem for many people. Although a certain amount of stress can help getting things done on time, too much stress can result in very serious consequences for both one’s physical and mental health.
How Workplace Stress Affects Physical Health
There are many different potential implications that stress may have on physical health and well-being including heart problems such as tension headaches, high blood pressure, chronic back pain and extreme fatigue. For those under high levels of workplace stress, very serious consequences may result including diabetes, stomach ulcers, heart disease, stroke and some people may suffer a complete burn-out requiring an extensive recuperation period.
Many people find that working in very stressful environments cause overeating and significant weight gain which in itself increases the likelihood of developing many additional health problems.
How Workplace Stress Affects Mental Health
Mental health problems are recognised to be on the rise with as many as one in four people thought to be affected at some point in life. Poor sleep quality including insomnia and nightmares caused by excessive stress can have a serious impact on a person’s mental well-being. Work-related stress also may result in drug and alcohol abuse, both of which have potentially alarming effects on mental health and in some cases can trigger forms of mental illness such as depression.
Those who are in highly stressful positions may show increased irritability, high levels of anxiety and find that self-esteem is often linked to how things are progressing within the workplace. As mental health problems are a major cause of sick-leave it is really crucial to understand how to manage stress as effectively as possible.
Stress Management Tips – Regular Exercise and Eat Healthy
Possibly the two simplest and most effective ways to manage workplace stress, as well as other causes of stress, more effectively is through taking regular exercise and eating a healthy, balanced diet. Exercise has long since been recognised as a very effective way to improve mood and reduce tension as it provides a release of feel good hormones known as ‘endorphins’ leading to an increased sense of well-being. Ideally, try to aim for thirty minutes of exercise at least three times a week including things like cycling, walking the dog, swimming, running or a workout session at the gym.
Eating a healthy, nutritious diet will certainly help to improve energy levels and reduce mood swings, particularly if one is currently consuming umpteen cups of caffeinated drinks and sugary snacks each day. The key word here is balance, no food should be off limits, just make sure one is getting plenty of fruit, vegetables, protein and fibre. Drinking water rather than fizzy drinks or high caffeine drinks will also help with energy levels and maintaining a healthy weight in the long-run.
Stress Management Tips – Achieve a Healthy Work-Life Balance
As with establishing and maintaining a healthy diet, balance is also important in wider aspects of an individual’s life. Draw a pie chart representing an average day and fill in the segments to show how much time each day is spent working, socialising, relaxing and sleeping. This is a quick and easy way to recognise which areas are out of balance. For example if one is working 40+ hours a week and not spending any time with friends or on other social activities then this is unsurprisingly going to have an impact upon one’s ability to cope with stress.
Having a support system in place of friends, family, work colleagues, as well as a specific activity which one uses to relieve stress such as playing sport will make a big difference to both mental and physical well-being both in the short and long-term.
As highlighted above, workplace stress can have serious impacts upon mental and physical health and may also lead to reduced morale and workplace conflict. Key ways to manage stress effectively include leading a balanced life, taking regular exercise and enjoying a balanced diet.