Work can be stressful sometimes, even if you love the job.
With approaching deadlines, daily responsibilities, and dealing with co-workers, every job comes with a set of obligations that can often leave you feeling drained when the day ends. Although it is very common to be stressed in the workplace, it can be definitely overwhelming and harmful to your physical and emotional health.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO),
work-related stress is the response that occurs when people encounter discrepancies or gap between their abilities and work demands that are present at work.
These discrepancies challenge people’s ability to cope with problems. In Indonesia, the work-related stress level is relatively low, merely 75 percent comparing to the global average among 23 countries which reaches 86 percent.
Maya, 27, is a professional banker who has been working for four years has mentioned that she has been stressed out at work too. “Oftentimes, I feel stressed out at work. Mostly because of excessive workloads and difficult co-workers,” she revealed. When Maya feels her job is quite intense, she would feel emotionally exhausted that she could suffer from stress-eating disorder while feeling confused and extremely teary.
According to Maya, stress at work is very likely for her and if that happens, she would take a break for a while. “I would take my annual leave for one or two days doing what I like, for example getting a massage, eating out or going to the cinema. Those activities can be so relaxing to me that I would feel fresh afterwards,” she said. Talking to her co-workers can be therapeutic too for Maya as they usually come up with a better solution to her workplace problems. “I also have bars of chocolate ready at work for my mood booster. I think certain foods can make you happy and for me, chocolate makes me happy,” she added.
Fortunately, Maya has never been so stressed out that she felt physically ill. She always tries to think positive at work and avoids overthinking. “It keeps my mind sane not to sweat about my work. I do not want to be too hard on myself. I just want to make my duties enjoyable because I really love it!” she asserted.
The Causes of Work-Related Stress
In order to get more information about work-related stress, we spoke with an experienced Work Psychologist, Karlina Noviasari M.Sc. or Lina who is specialised in organisational development and learning. Lina revealed that the cause of stress at work is divided into two categories.
First, the work contents which are any factors that are closely related to how the job should be done, such as lack of variety or monotonous activities, the intensity of the workload and work pace, working hours, as well as control and participation between the employer and the employee. Next, the work context, which is more about the system around the job, such as career development, salary, growth opportunity, colleagues, organisation culture, performance, and evaluation system. If any of these are designed poorly, it is likely to generate stress for the employees.
Lina also pointed out that work-related stress is also followed by several symptoms, such as insomnia, low mood, regular absence, fatigue, headache, anxiety, loss of interest at work, trouble concentrating, and muscle tension.
“When you feel those signs on your body, it might be the time to take a rest or slow down your work a little bit. Do not underestimate the smallest signal as this would affect one’s well-being.
Sometimes, people unconsciously compensate their uncomfortable feeling when the stress occurs with unhealthy choices, such as eating unhealthy foods, smoking or even consuming drugs.
The accumulation of stress and unhealthy choices may bring negative effects to the vital organs,” she added.
Quick Guideline on How to Handle Work-Related Stress
There are many ways to handle stress at work. According to Lina, writing a journal can be one of the therapies. “Writing a journal can be a good way to put your thought aside. You may write the situations that create tension and how you respond to them. By doing so, you can identify and keep on track how you deal with the situations and whether or not those actions went well and where to improve or even indicate to seek help,” she explained.
Developing healthy choices, such as doing exercises, eating healthy foods, making time for hobbies and interests or doing any preferable activities are also essential to help you disengage with work-related matters to keep the mind at ease for a certain time. “Sometimes, talking to someone can relieve the stress too. Hence, it is important to have someone to talk to. It could be your family or friends,” Lina mentioned. Moreover, meditation can also help to reduce stress. “Meditation is believed to be effective to release stress as it teaches you to be become more mindful with your present and empower yourself to increase stress resilience. It does not need to be long, only 10-15 minutes per day is enough to relax your tensions,” she said.
Work-related stress is normal and everyone has been experiencing it. However, you need to seek professional help if it becomes overwhelming and debilitating that it affects your health. “Consult to your therapist once you feel a major health setback or your discomfort becomes unbearable. They will provide you with a treatment and advice to practice your skills to deal with your stress,” Lina suggested.
Overall, stress is not something that we have to be afraid of. It is a natural response of our body to the tiring workloads and it possibly brings positive impacts too.
For instance, it can make you more alert as it helps you perform better in certain situations. Stress could also be a signal from the body to take a break. If you push yourself too hard, it may seriously risk your well-being. However, stress is only beneficial if it is short-lived. Therefore, keeping your body in balance is key to reduce the stress in the workplace.