Solutions to Work Stress and Burnout
Stress & Anxiety
Feb 28, 2018
On days when they are working, full-time employees dedicate an average of 8.56 hours per weekday or 5.48 hours per weekend day to work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is not an insignificant chunk of time, especially when you consider the high rates of workplace stress and burnout plaguing the U.S.
No matter what kind of job you have, you have likely experienced some sort of work-related stress or have succumbed to feeling burned out at some point. It could be due to an excessive workload, challenging tasks or simply fatigue. While a little stress is quite normal and can even help you focus at times, chronic or excessive stress and anxiety can build up and eventually precipitate physical and mental health ramifications.
A 2013 study revealed that about one-third of Americans experience chronic stress at work. Despite the ubiquitous nature of work-related stress, many people are unaware of how to manage it or identify when they’re at the breaking point and need to seek a solution. Sometimes feelings of anxiety or burning out on the job are unavoidable, but there are certain things you can do to manage these feelings so they don’t become a larger issue.
Common Workplace Stress Sources
Many studies have shown work stress is one of the most common types of stress among Americans and have attributed its pervasiveness to a variety of causes. Here are some of the most common job-related stress triggers:
- Overwhelming workloads
- Low salary
- Lack of opportunities
- Poor workplace relationships or communication
- Rising expectations
- Fear of failure or losing your job
- Uncertainty of your role
- Lack of support
It’s also common for workplace stress to stem from something in your home life. When personal issues are brought to work, it often causes work-related stresses to become exacerbated.
Symptoms of Chronic Work-Related Stress
Work-related stress and feelings of being burned out can take a toll on your mind and body if unaddressed. Most obviously, your job performance will suffer, which will likely add to your stress levels. When it comes to your health, there’s much to be concerned about, including chronic headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure and depression. Your personal life can also be affected – it’s common to experience social withdrawal, overeating, loss of sex drive and self-medicating with drugs and alcohol when overwhelmed with stress.
Solutions for Managing Stress at Work
Workplace stress can be managed by making some changes to your routine and how you respond to stressful situations. The solutions often depend on what the cause of your stress is, so it’s important to consider what the root of your dissatisfaction may be. Here are some ideas for managing common workplace stressors and how to find solutions.
Keep a Journal – Try keeping a journal. When you’re feeling overly stressed out, simply jot down what the cause might be, how it’s making you feel and other relevant details. This will help you identify your primary stressors and allow you to revisit your reactions later to help you improve future reactions.
Meet with Your Manager – According to the American Institute of Stress, workload is the primary stress driver for nearly half of the reported cases. One way to address this is to set up a meeting with your boss or manager and discuss how your workload is ultimately affecting your productivity. Try working together to develop a solution.
This can also be an opportunity to discuss your role, salary or interpersonal relationships. Even if your boss can’t fully accommodate your needs, knowing where you stand can alleviate some stress and may help you make a decision about your future with that company.
Lean on Coworkers – Stress at work is very common. Ask trusted coworkers how they’re feeling, and what they do when they’re feeling overly stressed. You may find it helps to simply confide in someone about shared experiences.
Establish Boundaries – It’s common for people to take their work home with them – it’s just a quick email or phone call, after all! Work on breaking this habit by establishing strict home and work boundaries and unplug when you get home to allow yourself to de-stress. This doubles for workload boundaries – recognize when too much is too much, and don’t be afraid to say “no.”
Get Organized – If excessive workload or high-performance expectations are primary stressors, work on getting organized. Remember you can only work on one thing at a time. Keep lists of what’s urgent and what can wait, stay focused on one task at a time and be realistic about your production.
Take a Mental Break – Take breaks throughout the day as needed, even if it’s just a trip to the water cooler or a short walk around the block. Don’t feel bad about taking a vacation or personal days either. Your mind and body need breaks from the workplace, especially if you’re prone to high levels of stress.
Get Professional Healthcare
Finding your own solutions for work-related stress is an excellent tactic, but sometimes professional care is needed, especially if your stress is causing serious health ramifications, such as depression, high blood pressure or chronic fatigue. Don’t hesitate to reach out to healthcare professionals, such as the ones of Complete Care. Contact any one of Complete Care’s multiple locations for more information about managing stress and receiving trusted medical care.