Workplace Stress Management

Everyone need stress to perform, but there’s good and bad stress. Good stress is that level that makes us perform and successfully manage and undertake the various tasks that we have to perform on a daily basis, and gives us that extra “kick” to rise to the unexpected challenges that work throws at us on a regular basis. Good stress allows us to move out of our comfort zones and move above our feelings of fear and fear of failure.

Bad stress however, is different. Bad stress, or perhaps we should call it “distress”, is that feeling of not being able to cope along with a deep fear of the consequences of not performing. Your energy levels fall and you feel quite unable to face the task at hand. This in turn starts to affect your life outside the workplace and can ultimately result in depression.

The key is not to allow the symptoms of extreme stress take hold, learn to identify the symptoms so you can have a plan ready before starting the slow drop into depression.

So what are the danger signs?

-being unable to sleep properly at night

-constant anxiety

-never feeling truly awake

-inability to concentrate properly

-extreme changes in your mood

-poor recall

-comfort eating and/or excessive drinking

These are a few of the signs that you are under too much stress, as well as some physical manifestations such as headaches and cold sores.

Not all these symptoms necessarily mean that you are under too much stress, but if you suffer from a number of them at the same time, it may well be indicative of an unhealthy level of the wrong type of stress. So, what to do?

Firstly, asses your options. Don’t allow your thoughts to be restricted by circumstance, in other words consider every possible action you could take, regardless of how possible it may be. For example consider getting extra support in your workplace role, taking time off, working part time or even giving up work altogether. In every scenario question what would be the consequences of what a certain action would have if you did it or if you didn’t.

Secondly, establish what additional information you need for each scenario. In other words, check out the bank to see if they can provide you with a loan to fund a sabbatical. Even the most unlikely idea can sometimes bear fruit.

Thirdly, think about what further support or resources you need to cope, and decide what is stopping you from getting that help.

Perhaps you need something as simple as a chat with your boss. This can often be the most beneficial way to proceed, although many people worry that it will make them appear “not up to it”. This can be avoided if you approach it in the right way. For example if you put your concerns in the context of the benefits to the business if you can improve your performance by making certain changes gives a “win-win” approach.

The bottom line is, don’t be afraid in enlisting support from work colleagues or friends in getting help for extreme stress.

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