Stress in the Workplace

The studio at 710KNUS

I was recently interviewed on 710KNUS radio here in Denver for a story on stress in the workplace.  (Listen to the segment, which aired on the Business Uncoventional program on February 19, 2012 here.)

The topic is one with which many of us struggle: the pressure to work harder, longer, and under increasingly negative conditions.  So how does one combat this?  How do we stay positive and healthy in the midst of all the stress?  Below are some of the tips mentioned in the interview.

Keep on keeping on.  Don’t forget to use the good stress management techniques you already have in place!  Resist the urge to skip book club or yoga class when you are stressed. That’s when you need these outlets the most!

Find and be a good role model. Bosses and supervisors can do their employees a huge favor when they model good stress management themselves (by actually taking their lunch break, for example).  Employees can be well-served to find a role model of good stress management.  Have a co-worker or boss who manages their home and work lives in a way you admire?  Ask them out to lunch and get some tips.

Get moving, people!  The American Psychological Association’s recent Stress in America survey revealed that Americans are getting better at managing stress, but we often pick sedentary activities to do so (think reading, praying, watching TV).  While these can be great at helping keep stress levels down, active strategies are even better for our overall health (think walking, swimming, gardening).

How Do I Know If I Am Stressed?

The American Psychological Association released their annual Stress in America survey today.  Results suggest that we Americans are way too stressed out and that stress is having serious negative consequences.  Chronic, long term stress can affect every system of our bodies: digestive, cardiac, musculoskeletal, and of course brain health can be seriously jeopardized when we are subjected to stress over the long term.  To read more about APA’s Stress in America survey, including how your city rates in terms of stress, click here.

We all know stress is bad, but how do you know if your stress level is too high?  What are the signs and symptoms of stress?  Well, we all experience it differently, and some of the signs of excessive stress may surprise you.  Here are a few to watch out for:

Difficulty concentrating (i.e., trouble focusing on your favorite TV show or book due to worries and stressful thoughts)

Excessive worry (i.e., going overboard in the amount of time you spend worrying about things, assuming the worst about things)

Overeating/undereating (i.e., eating when you’re not hungry, or losing interest in food)

Trouble with sleep (i.e., sleeping too much OR too little)

Trouble managing anger (i.e., losing your cool more quickly than normal)

Irritability (i.e., snapping at your kids or partner more than usual)

Inability to enjoy things you used to (i.e., too stressed out to enjoy weekly manicure)

Isolation (i.e., stop returning friends’ phone calls because you’re “too stressed” or “too busy” to talk)

Other signs of stress can include: difficulty doing just one thing at a time, trouble staying “in the moment,” and an increase of physical ailments (headaches, stomachaches, etc).