The Signs of Workplace Stress

No one single idea or technique can magically relieve all your stress; nor does every technique or approach work equally well for everyone. You need to put together a package of ideas and methods that you can integrate into the various aspects of your life — at work, and at home.

Stress is a major problem in the workplace. Just look at these facts about stress at work:

  • A 2012 survey by the American Psychological Association found that two in five employed adults (41 percent) feel stressed out during the workday. This percentage is higher than was reported in a similar 2011 study (36 percent).

  • Less than half of employees (46 percent) are satisfied with the growth and development opportunities offered by their employers.

  • A similar 46 percent are dissatisfied with the employee-recognition practices of their employers.

  • Less than half of employees feel that they are adequately compensated for what they are doing.

  • Less than half of respondents feel that their jobs give them flexibility in terms of where, how much, and when they work.

If you feel that your job is stressful, you’re not alone. Too many workers report that their job is a major source of stress in their lives. The specific sources of work stress can be job insecurity, low pay, impossible clients, a terrible boss, dreadful coworkers, ridiculous deadlines, nasty office gossip, or lost time with family members.

So before you’re a candidate for a job-burnout seminar (and certainly before you do something you may regret later), read this chapter. You find out how to regroup, get a grip, and minimize your stress at work.

Some things are getting better

Lest you think the workplace is nothing but stress, here’s a bit of good news. The 2012 survey by the American Psychological Association also found the following positives:

  • The percentage of workers whose employers provide sufficient opportunities for them to be involved in decision making, problem solving, and goal setting at work is up significantly from last year (60 percent vs. 53 percent).

  • A higher percentage of employees report that their employer provides sufficient opportunities for internal career advancement compared to last year (40 percent vs. 35 percent).

  • A significantly higher percentage of employees feel motivated to do their very best for their employer (72 percent vs. 66 percent).

Take a stress at work quiz

Some people thrive on the adrenaline rush they get from diving into the “challenges” they face at work. But if you’re not stimulated and feel that you’re drowning instead, then work stress may be the problem. See if you recognize the signs of work stress. Check off the symptoms that describe you while you’re at work:

____    You’re often irritable.
____    You have trouble concentrating.
____    You’re tired.
____    You’ve lost much of your sense of humor.
____    You get into more arguments than you used to.
____    You get less done.
____    You get sick more often.
____    You care less about your work.
____    You struggle to get out of bed on workday mornings.
____    You have less interest in your life outside of work.

At some point in their professional lives, most people will check off one or two of these items. However, if you feel that items on this list consistently describe you, or if you feel they have become a major source of distress in your life, you may want to seek professional help. Start by making an appointment with your family physician.

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